New Kid on the Block: The ALWD Citation Manual
Journal of the Missouri Bar, Vol. 59, p. 16, 2003
5 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2007
"Be sure to bluebook this!" These very words often strike terror in the hearts of law students, clerks, and attorneys. An archaic book, unreadable and undecipherable, chock-full of rules that make the misplacement of a single space or period a capitol offense, The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (herein after "the bluebook") has become the bible for legal citation. Written by law students (yes, law students) at four major East Coast law schools, the bluebook has been the citation standard for the legal community for too many years to count.
Every five years or so, a new edition is issued with a multitude of changes. The reasoning behind the changes is often obscure to the legal community at large. Some are made for politically correct reasons, such as including the first names of authors of legal periodical articles and treatises instead of mere initials to indicate the body of scholarship of female authors. Other changes appear on their face to have no real purpose, such as the change in the abbreviation for citing decisions of bankruptcy appellate panels. Making the bluebook understandable to law students has plagued the legal writing teaching community for years. The bluebook is hard to understand, with one set of rules for law reviews and a different set of rules for briefs and legal memoranda. To confound the problem, the only examples given in the text are in law review style.
And so the new kid on the block was conceived. The ALWD CITATION MANUAL: A PROFESSIONAL SYSTEM OF CITATION (hereinafter "the manual") was published by Aspen Law & Business in the summer of 2000. Backed by the Association of Legal Writing Directors, Darby Dickerson of Stetson University College of Law has drafted a user-friendly citation guide that is taking the legal writing community by storm. In its first year, the manual was adopted "at more than ninety law schools, many paralegal programs, and several law reviews."
Quite simply, the ALWD manual has far exceeded the legal writing community's expectations. The manual is straightforward, full of explanations in plain English, and has an example for everything. Part I of this article will examine the design and organizational features of the manual. Part II will highlight the main rule differences between the manual and the bluebook. Part III will emphasize the benefits to Missouri lawyers of using the ALWD manual for its citation needs. Lastly, an appendix includes a chart summarizing the two citation manuals for selected rules.
Keywords: bluebook, citation, citation manual, Uniform System of Citation, legal writing, ALWD, professional system of citation, plain English, AWLD citation
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation