Getting started as an author

General

For the time being, the ability to make and edit contributions is loosely limited to a pool of invited author/editors, which you may join (mailto:join-wex@liicornell.org)].

Starting out as a Wex author involves making choices about what to write and learning a few simple mechanics of editing. As a first step, you should make sure that your intended topic hasn't been covered already; this is easily done by searching. You should also learn a little bit of the general mechanics of editing, with particular attention to linking to legal resources.

Choosing what to write

Wex is intended, at least initially, as a resource for law novices, a term that is meant to be highly inclusive. Lawyers and legal academics tend to think of law students when they hear the phrase, but in fact there are many kinds of law novices -- including, especially, members of the general public with a professional need to know something about a particular area of law, people who want to know more about the systems of law and government under which they (or others) live, and so on. A decade of experience at the LII has taught us that topics of interest to the public range from the very rudimentary to the extremely sophisticated. Imagine that you're writing for an intelligent, interested non-lawyer with a need to know something about the law.

Wex includes a few basic types of articles:

  • The simplest, and perhaps the least time-consuming, are simple dictionary definitions, such as the one for abuse of discretion. These offer the term along with its meaning(s), and perhaps some illustrations of the term taken from caselaw or statute.
  • Legal-encyclopedia pages, such as the one for employment discrimination, give an overview of a subject accompanied by a menu of links to important legal-information resources that are related to the topic.
  • Backgrounders are similar to legal-encyclopedia pages, but they put more emphasis on discussion and exploration than on assembling links to primary sources. See, for example, the page on forfeiture.
  • So-called "key" pages are intended to link terms from everyday life to legal concepts and problems that may relate to them. A good key page should make it easier for laypeople to find resources related to a problem that they may have. Such a page has a name that might be used to complete the sentence, "I have a problem with...", and contains information leading the reader to legal topics that bear on the problem.

These are, we admit, blurry distinctions. And there are many other types of pages one can imagine finding in a legal encyclopedia -- for example, discussions of particular cases. We are particularly interested in topics and definitions that are helpful to law novices -- students in the first part of the first year of law school, businesspeople with particular law interests, etc.

As for choosing a specific topic, you might begin by searching for something you think should be in Wex. If it's not -- well, there's your writing assignment. Other good places to look are in the lists of wanted and short pages.

Mechanics

The mechanics of starting a new page are covered in "starting a new article". Help with the mechanical aspects of editing can be found in Help:Editing. Consulting the section on linking to legal resources will make the job easier.

Style

We strongly suggest a look at the style guide before you begin.

See also

Taxonomy upgrade extras: