May 3, 2007
Professional Reading: Q. Who Benefits from Our Devotion to Bibliographical Orthodoxy?
A. LexisNexis and Westlaw according to Ian Gallacher, Assistant Professor of Law, Syracuse University College of Law.
I think all law librarians know that but Gallacher article also presents an interesting argument for open source law achieved by neutral citation. See Cite Unseen: How Neutral Citation and America's Law Schools Can Cure Our Strange Devotion to Bibliographical Orthodoxy and the Constriction of Open and Equal Access to the Law, 70 Alb. L. Rev. 491 (2007)[Westlaw]. [JH]
From the article's introduction:
In this Article, I will examine the undesirable effects of [our] devotion to citation form, paying particular attention to the unintended, but real, effect the present citation system has in impeding free and open access to the law. This effect ... is becoming more significant as the cost of legal information in book form rises. It appears increasingly likely that, sooner rather than later, the only method of retrieving, studying, and using the common law will be through the vast commercial databases maintained by West and LexisNexis.
This Article will review the history of legal citation, discuss how citation rules affect our ability to cite to court opinions, and scrutinize some proposed alternatives to present citation practices and the reasons those alternatives have not, as yet, become standard. I will not be engaging in a comparative critique of the ALWD Manual and The Bluebook; that discussion has been conducted elsewhere, with the balance of the debate favoring the ALWD Manual. Nor will I criticize The Bluebook's tendency to change the way it requires authors to use signals such as See or Cf. That issue has also been engaged by other scholars and, while thought-provoking, is tangential to my purpose here.
In this Article, I will conclude that the American legal system's present citation practices have the real, if unintended, consequence of solidifying two for-profit companies' preeminent positions as the provider of American legal information, and that America's law schools should act to correct this situation and make the law freely available to all.
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Tracked on May 3, 2007 1:18:21 AM