Choose a general area that you are interested in (e.g., environmental law, technology and the law, health law and policy), and then spend some time skimming publications to learn about recent developments. Before a case or statute is discussed in law reviews, it is covered in newspapers, legal newsletters, blogs, and other current awareness sources. Coming across a short article about a recent case or proposed legislation may give you an idea for a topic.
The Gallagher guide on Staying Current describes online resources and techniques that UW School of Law faculty and students can use to stay up to date with recent research topics. Includes, for example, information on Legal Scholarship Network (LSN) and SmartCILP.
Browsing recent journals can give you ideas about what topics are hot and how issues are presented.
The Current Index to Legal Periodicals (CILP) is a very useful tool for keeping up. WebCILP for UW users only (last 6 weeks) | Westlaw (last 8 weeks). CILP provides quick access to the contents of more than 550 legal periodicals, either through the Table of Contents or organized within 100 legal subjects. Law review articles are indexed here 4-6 weeks before they are indexed by commercial legal periodical indexes such as LegalTrac or the Index to Legal Periodicals. Note: UW Law faculty and students can subscribe to SmartCILP, a tailored version of CILP that sends you just the articles indexed under the subject headings you choose.
United States Law Week. KF105.1.U5 (Bloomberg Law) lists circuit splits in the first issue of each month. When using Bloomberg Law, search for "circuit splits."
Each issue of Seton Hall Circuit Review includes a "Current Circuit Splits" column, summarizing recent cases.
You can also use caselaw databases on LexisNexis, Westlaw, or Bloomberg Law. Sample searches: