Abstract

https://ssrn.com/abstract=2862090
 


 



The Worst System of Citation Except for All the Others


David Ziff


University of Washington School of Law

October 31, 2016

Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 66.3, Forthcoming
University of Washington School of Law Research Paper No. 2016-22

Abstract:     
Everybody hates The Bluebook — the generally adopted and generally reviled system of citation for lawyers, judges, law students, professors, and everyone else who writes about the law. Like most people who’ve used The Bluebook, I have a personal list of least-favorite rules. Others have gone further, authoring lengthy articles cataloguing The Bluebook’s faults and missteps over the decades.

And yet, here we are. Now in its twentieth edition, The Bluebook continues to cast its shadow over the legal profession just as it has for almost 100 years, helping legal writers format their references to authorities in briefs, memoranda, opinions, and law review articles. Previous critiques have offered various theories for why, despite its problems, The Bluebook remains the standard for legal citation. Ivy League elitism, the first-mover advantage, and lawyers’ conservative preference for the status quo have all been offered to explain the seemingly inexplicable: If this system is so terrible, then why are we still stuck with it?

One potential answer to that question has remained largely unexplored by previous scholarship, because previous scholarship has accepted the question’s underlying premise. This essay endeavors to fill that gap in the literature by offering a novel explanation for The Bluebook’s continued existence: Perhaps The Bluebook survives because it’s not so terrible after all. Perhaps The Bluebook works quite well for the task it was designed to perform.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

Keywords: Legal Writing, Bluebook, Legal Citation, Legal Education, Indigo Book


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Date posted: November 2, 2016 ; Last revised: November 24, 2016

Suggested Citation

Ziff, David, The Worst System of Citation Except for All the Others (October 31, 2016). Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 66.3, Forthcoming; University of Washington School of Law Research Paper No. 2016-22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2862090

Contact Information

David Ziff (Contact Author)
University of Washington School of Law ( email )
William H. Gates Hall
Box 353020
Seattle, WA 98105-3020
United States
HOME PAGE: http://https://ziffblog.wordpress.com/

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