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Thursday's Tome


I've discussed the Bluebook before, but I wanted to reiterate a few things based on a workshop we hosted at the Library earlier this week.  

Firstly, while many people may not think citations are that important in the grand scheme of things, they can make more of a difference than you might first imagine.  According to this website, "In a Vermont Case, In re Shepperson, 674 A.2d 1273 (1996), an attorney repeatedly submitted briefs to the courts during a seven-year period that contained “numerous citation errors that made identification of cases difficult, cited cases for irrelevant or incomprehensible reasons, made legal arguments without citation to authority, and inaccurately represented the law contained in the cited cases.” One brief in particular was more than 90 pages long, and the judge noted that the attorney “fail[ed] to raise a legitimate legal issue or cite a single authority in support of his arguments.” The attorney appealed a lower court’s decision that he attend a six-month tutorial program designed to improve his skills. The appeals court suspended him for “not less than six months” and “until he has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the court that he is fit to practice law.”"  

Secondly, while the Bluebook is notoriously dense, it does include rules for practically every citation.  Granted, you may need to be creative if you're working on a law review note that uses ancient or little known sources; however, you should be able to (with patience and persistence) sort through the rules and piece together what you need.

Thirdly, when it comes to Bluebooking, don't be afraid to use the Index in the back or ask your local law librarian for guidance.

Finally, remember to breathe.  As an attorney, you're trying to fight for your client, but you are also making an impression on the people around you.  By utilizing proper citations, you can impress the judge with your attention to detail, which can assist your work and legal arguments.

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