Shedding the Uniform: Beyond a 'Uniform System of Citation' to a More Efficient Fit
41 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2015 Last revised: 26 Jan 2020
Date Written: September 1, 2015
This article brings a fresh perspective to the ongoing conversation about legal citation format: By highlighting the costs that the fetishization of “perfect” citation format imposes on legal education, the legal profession, and our system of justice, this article encourages us to seize the opportunity that technology presents to implement a more just, sane philosophy of legal citation. Tracing the history of legal citation from its origins in Rome, this article thoroughly debunks any notions of one citation manual’s inherent superiority as a citation tool and instead suggests a return to first principles: an approach to citation that ensures accuracy, brevity, clarity, and efficiency.
This article does not simply criticize The Bluebook: Many have trod that ground before. Nor does it advocate for a particular alternative citation manual. Rather, it urges that educators and the profession adopt a real-world approach to citation that embraces the opportunities technology offers. It then goes on to offer concrete steps that law schools, the legal profession, and The Bluebook’s editors themselves can take to create a saner, more cost-effective philosophy of legal citation.
Keywords: Bluebook, legal citation, hyperlink, ALWD, access to justice, efficiency, legal profession, Maroonbook
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