Keep It Simple Stupid, Bluebook-Style

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Sage, condensed and practical advice in the March 3, 2008 issue of the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly from Suffolk Law legal writing instructors Julie Baker and Lisa Healy: good citations are another step towards good advocacy. Download the article from SSRN here. Never mind the arcane intricacies of the Bluebook, just make sure that the citations you use and how you use them enhance your arguments rather than detract from them. Ms. Baker and Ms. Healy offer three most excellent suggestions on how to accomplish this: (1) use a consistent citation style, which will telegraph competency and care in your writing and your analysis; (2) make the citations you use count, by avoiding string cites and focusing on the most recent case from the highest court discussing your point; and (3) to the extent possible, keep the actual citations out of the text itself to promote a more fluid read. The authors suggest putting the case name in the sentence and the citation at the end. I would go that one better: put the citation in a footnote. Not the usual convention, I know, but think about what a nice smooth polish that would put on your paragraphs!

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