YLS Newsletter

Erica BredehoftFrom SLU's Legal Writing Program

Erica Bredehoft, Assistant Professor of Legal Writing at Saint Louis University School of Law, is available to answer questions on research and writing that are relevant to new attorneys.  Send questions to ebredeh2@slu.edu with YLS in the subject line.

Dear Professor B.,

I really hate the Bluebook, and it seems like sometimes when I need it I can’t even find a copy. I mean does anyone really care about, for example, Rule 21.5.1?

- Not a Fan of Bluebook

Dear Not a Fan of Bluebook,

Yes, people care about the Bluebook and correct citation.  Unless you are filing before Judge Posner, a strong critic of the Bluebook (who voices some valid complaints), I encourage you to take the time to check your citations.  While your boss, and maybe even the judge, may not be bothered by incorrect citations, he or she certainly may be.  Your credibility is at stake, and there is no reason to have it brought into question over something that can easily be fixed.  Sloppy citations can give the impression that an attorney is lazy or generally incompetent – obviously not the impression you would ever want to give a judge.  Consider correct citations to be one step towards building a solid reputation for yourself. 

As for finding a Bluebook when you need one, there is actually an electronic version available.  Sometimes students who are not familiar with the Bluebook have trouble navigating the electronic version, but practicing attorneys generally find the online version very convenient.  In addition to the fact that it is available wherever you have an Internet connection, it is also searchable. 

So, while there may be no shortcut to checking your citations or using the Bluebook, at least with the electronic version you will be able to find one when you need it!

- Prof. B.