How to Avoid Pitfalls with Online Citations (Match Game Edition)
CUE MATCH GAME ’76:
Amy Appellatelawyer was a meticulous lawyer.
How meticulous was she?
Amy Appellatelawyer was so meticulous that before she’d accept a date invitation, she’d ask to Shepardize their BLANK!
Briefs, of course.
Careful attribution to cited material has always been a hallmark of good legal writing. The proper use and citation of authority not only helps build the foundation for solid argument, it’s also one of the ethical mandates that lawyers, as officers of the Court, are expected to abide by.
In the past 10-15 years there’s been a major increase in both the volume and availability of information. “Traditional” sources for citation such as court cases, Law Review articles, and well-recognized magazines and newspapers are far easier to access, as are other primary source materials such as public records and filings. At the same time, other types of information, ranging from Wikipedia listings to blogs, “blawgs”, e-books, and social media have exploded and become a major part of societal discourse.
As a result, today’s litigators and academics are presented with both exciting new opportunities and dangerous new pitfalls. Lawyers need to ask: Can I cite to this particular item as “authority”? If so, how do I properly cite it? As the way information is created and shared continues to rapidly evolve, the answers to these questions are also continually changing. In addition, even when standards start to emerge, specific citation requirements can vary by jurisdiction and forum (for litigation) and by publication (for academic writing).
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