Passive Voice & Squishy Statements:
Notice how both of those sentences contain a fair amount of ambiguity? They're a little squishy; we can't be sure exactly what the writer is trying to convey. Try to spot these and other ambiguous statements in your writing. Aim for greater precision, even if you can't rewrite it with active voice. Passive voice often masks the problem, rather than being the problem itself.
Some tips for interpreting notes on your drafts:
Introduction: set the context (why it's important, plus anything else the reader needs to know up-front), state your thesis, provide a roadmap to the rest of the paper.
Background: Condense your notes and summarize the background necessary for understanding your analysis of the issue. Use headings to mark off your sections.
Analyze the problem, explaining the advantages and disadvantages of the current situation. Then state your proposal, explaining why it would work, and critique alternatives.
Conclude with a summary of the problem and your proposal again, and why your proposal is best.
If your paper doesn't fit into this structure well, consider alternatives -- breaking up your thesis into sub-points, addressing each in turn.
Seminar Papers can be a strange breed of legal writing, requiring research but not the kind of case-crunching that you've probably become most accustomed to. The aim should be to do enough research so that you can write with authority on a topic. You have studied and learned, and the writing demonstrates what you've learned.
Your set of resources says a great deal about what you studied and learned. They should be the resources that you would refer your reader to, to learn more about the topic. While there's no magic number of resources or footnotes, and no hard line rule about which type of resource is best, here are some guidelines about the different types of materials you should cite to in your footnotes:
Newspaper Articles - use for citing investigations of facts, and/or to support the occurrence of an event. At the conclusion of a high-profile trial, newspaper reporting can be a good source for anything that occurred in the courtroom during arguments, or guaging public opinion on the verdict.
Reports from NGOs, Associations, etc. - use for best practices and/or for their in-depth study of a phenomenon that is not otherwise well-documented. If a watchdog group issues a report (or white paper) on the incidence of drunk driving among licensed foster parents, having requested and counted a large number of FOIA-ed court reports, that's something that you probably won't find through any other source.
Law Review Articles - use for their analysis of prevailing law in a given topic, such as juveniles being transferred to adult court under the discretionary transfer provisions. What you gain from a law review article is usually synthesis of multiple sources, in addition to their arguments about how the law should be.
Scholarly articles from the social and biological sciences - the scientific process requires experimentation and analysis of the results, and authors publish in order to share their findings and data with the rest of the scientific community. Use these articles when you want to find support for phenomena you believe to be connected. For instance, you may believe (or hypothesize) that children who have been exposed to violence at home are more likely to become violent at school. That's a hypothesis; someone has most likely studied this with actual children, documenting exposure to violence at home and documenting violence at school, coding for each, and then analyzing the results. The study (or studies) may demonstrate only correlation -- that those two phenemona tend to occur together; or they may demonstrate causation -- that violence at home leads to more violence at school. But the research methods in the sciences require rigorous research in order to claim causation.
Blogs and other online-only pieces - use to show what an influential thinker thinks, or what an organization is reporting on, or in the case of an online-only report, see above.
Take a look at your footnotes, and ask yourself whether those are the best sources to support the point you're making.
Suggestions on this page drawn primarily from:
Eugene Volokh, Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, Seminar Papers, and Getting on Law Review, 4th ed. (Foundation Press, 2010).
Elizabeth Fajans and Mary R. Falk, Scholarly Writing for Law Students: Seminar Papers, Law Review Notes, and Law Review Competition Papers, 4th ed. (West, 2011).