Law Students Not Only Ones To Loathe The Bluebook - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
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Law Students Not Only Ones To Loathe The Bluebook

Law Students Not Only Ones To Loathe The Bluebook

Judge Posner hates it too, apparently.

He recently relayed his disgust for The Bluebook in a 12 page Yale Law Review article. Truly a recommended read of a judge’s opinion that anyone in this field could agree with.

This article echoes his 1986 article, about which Judge Posner writes, “[m]any years ago I wrote a review of The Bluebook, then in its sixteenth edition. My review was naively entitled ‘Goodbye to the Bluebook.’ The Bluebook was then a grotesque 255 pages long. It is now in its nineteenth edition—which is 511 pages long.”

Grotesque indeed.

Judge Posner then questions the single system of legal citation by pointing out the absurd abbreviation rules:

“Efforts to impose uniformity beyond the basic conventions encounter rapidly diminishing returns well illustrated by The Bluebook’s obsession with abbreviations. An example that I have picked literally at random is ‘C.Ag.’ What does ‘C.Ag.’ stand for? Why, of course, the Codigo de Aguas of Brazil. Now suppose one had occasion to cite the Codigo de Aguas. Why would one want to abbreviate it? The abbreviation would be meaningless to someone who was not a Brazilian lawyer, and perhaps to Brazilian lawyers as well (but do they abbreviate Codigo de Aguas ‘C.Ag’?). The basic rule of abbreviating, ignored by the authors of The Bluebook, is to avoid nonobvious abbreviations: don’t make the reader puzzle over an abbreviation, as The Bluebook does routinely. Consider ‘Temp. Envtl. L. & Tech. J.,’ ‘ILSA J. Int’l & Comp. L.,’ ‘Emp. Rts. & Emp. Pol’y J.,’ and ‘AIPLA Q.J.’ These are names of journals. Now try figuring out “B.T.A.M. (P-H),” “A. Ct. Crim. App.,” ‘A.F. Ct. Crim. App.,’ ‘C.G. Ct. Crim. App.,’ ‘N-M Ct. Crim. App.,’ ‘Ne. Reg’l Parole Comm’n,’ and ‘Cent. Ill. Pub. Serv. Co.’

What is the point? It’s as if there were a heavy tax on letters, making it costly to write out Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals instead of abbreviating it ‘C.G. Ct. Crim. App.’ ”

Hear, hear.

For more on Judge Posner’s entertaining article, click here, here, and here.


Amy Dunayevich

Amy Dunayevich is a third year student at Fordham University School of Law and is Fordham IPLJ's Technology Editor. Originally from the Detroit suburbs, Amy spent two years in the Peace Corps living in Eastern Europe without running water but with high-speed internet. Amy now lives in Brooklyn with her little black pug Roxanne. Although pursuing a career in the public interest, Amy finds intellectual property law to be extremely relevant, interesting, and important.