Introduction to Basic Legal Citation
Peter W. Martin, Cornell Law School
Copyright Year: 2013
Publisher: CALI's eLangdell® Press
Conditions of Use
This book is comprehensive in relation to its objective, which is not comprehensiveness in terms of a citation reference work but rather in providing a tutorial on citing on the most widely referenced types of U.S. legal material. That objective... read more
This book is comprehensive in relation to its objective, which is not comprehensiveness in terms of a citation reference work but rather in providing a tutorial on citing on the most widely referenced types of U.S. legal material. That objective is fully achieved and the text provides a valuable resource to anyone engaged in legal writing, especially in that it considers both local norms as well as changes in citation practice that have been required with so many legal sources shifting from print to digital. It should be noted that its focus is the forms of citation used in professional practice, rather than in law journals, so it will be more helpful to writers seeking assistance with the former than the latter.
No errors of fact or any pattern of bias in presentation were evident to this reviewer.
The content of this book is currently up-to-date, although the subject matter is one that does require frequent updates. However, given that updated editions have been issued frequently, including as recently as 2010, 2011, and 2012, so one can reasonably anticipate that will continue. Additionally, it features a companion “wiki” that allows users to ask questions, offer comments and elaboration, etc.
The text is presented in prose that most readers should find lucid and accessible, especially the type of readers who are most likely to use this book -- law students and legal practitioners. However, in this reviewer’s assessment, even lay readers who might be seeking assistance in writing legal petitions, etc. It would be impossible to write a how-to book on legal citation without utilizing a considerable degree of jargon/technical terminology, but this one quite effectively provides sufficient context. That probably derives at least in part from its origins as a response to a group of law students in the early 1990s who were seeking assistance in learning citation.
This book does maintain consistency in terminology and framework, even though it is dealing with a topic in which inconsistency of that sort is a hazard.
This is a text that can without question be divided into smaller reading sections, which could be assigned in any way preferred by an instructor. Enhancing that modularity is the extensive hyperlinking throughout the book, including the table of contents, so that readers can quite easily move back and forth through the book, quickly focusing and refocusing on almost any series of related points that might prove most useful to the individual user.
This reviewer found the text to be organized in a manner that provided for a quite coherent structure and natural flow. The introductory unit helps the reader understand the basic reasons that such highly specialized forms of citation are utilized, and then moves into one “how to cite” unit that is followed by a related unit that can provide review on the preceding unit or alternative approaches to citation problems as necessary. As noted before, in a book like this, in which readers will more often be seeking specific assistance rather than a narrative reading experience, the hyperlinking throughout also enhances the organizational flow.
This reviewer encountered no significant or even minor interface issues. The text does not feature images or charts as they are usually thought of, but it does provide frequent examples offset in boxes that are free of distortion and quite helpful.
No grammatical errors were evident to this reviewer.
This book does not use examples that are either inclusive or exclusive of any races, ethnicities, or backgrounds. But that is because it focuses strictly on providing guidance for making the references necessary in legal writing to statutes, regulations, secondary literature, journal articles, etc. -- the technical language of legal citation. All its examples are examples of how to format such references.
Even though this book is a reference work on a not particularly entertaining topic, this reviewer enjoyed reading it and expects to find occasions to utilize it both for citation assistance and contextual guidance.
Table of Contents
- 1-000. Basic Legal Citation: What and Why?
- 2-000. How to Cite
- 3-000. Examples - Citations Of
- 4-000. Abbreviations and Omissions Used in Citations
- 5-000. Underlining and Italics
- 6-000. Placing Citations in Context
- 7-000. Reference Tables
About the Book
This is not a comprehensive citation reference work. Its limited aim is to serve as a tutorial onhow to cite the most widely referenced types of U.S. legal material, taking account of localnorms and the changes in citation practice forced by the shift from print to electronic sources.It begins with an introductory unit. That is followed immediately by one on "how to cite" thecategories of authority that comprise a majority of the citations in briefs and legalmemoranda. Using the full table of contents one can proceed through this material insequence. The third unit, organized around illustrative examples, is intended to be used eitherfor review and reinforcement of the prior "how to" sections or as an alternative approach tothem. One can start with it since the illustrative examples for each document type are linkedback to the relevant "how to" principles.
The sections on abbreviations and omissions, on typeface (italics and underlining), and onhow citations fit into the larger project of legal writing that follow all support the precedingunits. They are accessible independently and also, where appriopriate, via links from theearlier sections. Finally, there are a series of cross reference tables tying this introduction tothe two major legal citation reference works and to state-specific citation rules and practices.
The work is also designed to be used by those confronting a specific citation issue. For suchpurposes the table of contents provides one path to the relevant material. Another, to whichthe bar at the top of each major section provides ready access, is a topical index. This index isalphabetically arrayed and more detailed than the table of contents. Finally, the searchfunction in your e-book reader software should allow an even narrower inquiry, such as oneseeking the abbreviation for a specific word (e.g.,institute) or illustrative citations for aparticular state, Ohio, say.
If the device on which you are reading this e-book allows it, the pdf format will enable you toprint or to copy and paste portions, large or small, into other documents. However, since thev work is filled with linked cross references and both the table of contents and index rely onthem, most will find a print copy far less useful than the electronic original.
About the Contributors
Peter W. Martin, the Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law, Emeritus, and former dean of Cornell Law School, writes, speaks, and consults on topics that concern the impact of technology on the functioning of law and legal institutions.
After his graduation from Harvard Law School, Professor Martin spent three years in the Air Force General Counsel's Office, and then began his teaching career at the University of Minnesota Law School in 1967. He joined the Cornell Law School Faculty in 1972, and served as Dean from 1980 to 1988.
Professor Martin co-founded Cornell's Legal Information Institute (LII) with Thomas R. Bruce in 1992, the first Internet law resource and still the most heavily used non-profit legal Web site. In addition to serving as the LII's co-director for over a decade, Professor Martin has created an electronic treatise and database on Social Security law, a Web reference, ebook, and accompanying online tutorials on legal citation, and written numerous articles on uses of digital technology in law and legal education. Between 1996 and 2007 he offered law courses employing electronic materials prepared by him to students at over a dozen law schools via the internet. His most recent articles are available on SSRN. He blogs at: citeblog.access-to-law.com