Tuesday, May 31, 2016

(Re)learning Legal Citation

There are many systems of legal citation, beyond The Bluebook and ALWD.  While the systems are fairly similar, transitioning from one to  another may be challenging.  Maybe you learned how to cite with ALWD during your 1L year and then became a research assistant for a professor who needs citations conforming to The Bluebook.  Maybe you learned how to use The Bluebook, but at your summer firm, you need to use Ohio’s citation method, as described in the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Writing Manual:  a Guide to Citations, Style, and Judicial Opinion Writing.
Here are a few tools to help you navigate this transition:

  • Peter W. Martin, Introduction to Basic Legal Citation (online ed. 2015).  This ebook includes examples from ALWD, The Bluebook, and some state court citation styles.  It concludes with cross reference tables addressing ALWD and The Bluebook as well as a state citation chart. 
  • The Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) offers correlation tables, one from The Bluebook to ALWD and the other from ALWD to The Bluebook.  If you know the relevant rule in one system for pinpoint pages, you can use these tables to locate the relevant rule in the other system.
  • If you are just getting to know The Bluebook, take a look at Linda J. Barris’s Understanding and mastering the Bluebook: a guide for students and practitioners.  The Moritz Law Library has several copies of this book, which describes itself as a “survival manual.”  It includes lots of tips, examples, and tables.
  • Practice citation with online lessons.  LexisNexis offers the Interactive Citation Workstation, with exercises for both ALWD and The Bluebook.  CALI offers lessons on Ohio Citation (as well as for several other states).
While Judge Richard A. Posner declares The Bluebook560 pages of rubbish,” adhering to your citation style, whether The Bluebook or not, is a vital part of legal writing. Use these resources to make sure your writing doesn’t end up in the wastebasket!