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Since 1926, the “Blue Book” has been the bible of legal researchers, librarians and lawyers. “The Bluebook — a Uniform System of Citation” produced every five years by the staffs of the law reviews at Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Penn is a standard part of the legal lexicon and required reading for law students. But all of that could change if a group of legal research professors have their way and are able to persuade lawyers, judges and law schools to adopt what is the first alternative to the “Bluebook” in more than a decade. Darby Dickerson is the author of the Chicago-based Association of Legal Writing Directors’ new citation manual, “ALWD Citation Manual, A Professional System of Citation” — which is generally called “ALWD.” Darby, the associate dean at Stetson University, says the new style guide will be more flexible, more consistent and easier to teach than the “Bluebook” It also creates methods to cite electronic data including e-mails and other Internet posts such as list-servers. But one of the biggest differences between “ALWD” and the “Bluebook” is who puts it together. “ALWD” was authored by Dickerson with the aid of a panel of legal writing and research teachers from around the country. That’s opposed to the “Bluebook,” authored by law review students who are typically long gone by the time the next edition of the citation guide is produced five years later. Darby says the built-in staff turn over at the “Bluebook” often leads to consistency problems between editions. She and other librarians point to the way so-called signals — which indicate the way a case is used in a brief — were changed between the 15th and current 16th edition of the “Bluebook.” “It’s frustrating that the ‘Bluebook’ changes every five years when a new group of students come in,” says Darby after introducing the new guide to law librarians at the American Association of Law Libraries annual meeting in Philadelphia. But the biggest selling point of the new citation guide is that it was specifically designed for teaching law students how to do legal research. “Legal research is taught to first-year law students and the “Bluebook” is just not designed for that,” says Dickerson. “ALWD’s” emphasis on teaching is likely a big part of the fact that legal research teachers at more than 80 law schools have made commitments to use the new citation guide this year. Even Alan Diefenbach, a former law librarian at Harvard Law School who served as the primary advisor to the 16th edition of the “Bluebook,” calls the “ALWD’s” approach “refreshing.” “I’ve always had a sense that students [who work on the 'Bluebook'] weren’t interested in instruction and because of that the ‘Bluebook’ was an endangered species,” says Diefenbach, who is currently at Barry University in Florida. “I think they are headed in the right direction.” But getting courts and lawyers to adopt the style guide might be a lot harder than law schools. “What people cite in journals might be different than what people cite in court briefs,” says Frank Houdek, of Southern Illinois University and editor of the AALL’s Law Library Journal. But Dickerson says that only 12 jurisdictions specifically require the use of the “Blue Book” and she is approaching them. In her home state of Florida, a committee is considering recommending “ALWD” as an alternative to the “Bluebook .” In the end, however, the differences between the two citation guides might be hard to notice. “If a student learned ‘ALWD’ and wrote a brief in ‘ALWD’ style in a jurisdiction that required the ‘Bluebook,’ only the most anal-retentive clerk would notice,” says Mary Whisner of the University of Washington’s Gallagher Law Library. But adoption of “ALWD” still might be a long shot. The University of Chicago’s law school introduced the “Maroon Book” during the 1980s but it failed to find acceptance and was dropped. The “Maroon Book” tried to address some of the same concerns as “ALWD” by giving lawyers more flexibility in citation, but altered basic citation formats too much. “It made some radical changes so that some citations looked foreign to lawyers,” Dickerson says. In addition, the “Maroon Book” failed to address some international legal materials, a complaint that was also made about “ALWD.” The new “ALWD” will face a test early. For reasons that may or may not be related to the introduction of “ALWD,” the 17th edition of the “Bluebook” is set for release this summer, one year ahead of schedule. “Every school that adopts ‘ALWD’ is money that’s not going to the ‘Bluebook,’” says Houdek. Although few librarians have seen the new “Bluebook,” it reportedly addresses some of the same issues as “ALWD,” such as citation of the Internet and other electronic materials. But Dickerson thinks that the new “Bluebook” is actually a reason to pick her citation guide. “One selling point for ‘ALWD’ is everyone has to change. You can’t use the 16th edition anymore,” says Dickerson.

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