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I have often thought of the Bluebook citation system — for decades, the prevailing format for legal citation — as a cruel form of torture perpetrated on unsuspecting lawyers by Ivy Leaguers with a twisted sense of humor. Published by the Harvard Law Review Association, the Bluebook’s pages are filled with Byzantine spacing and font requirements. And every five years, a new edition foists changes upon us that make it even more confusing than its predecessor. But, finally there is a reasonable, professional, common sense alternative to The Bluebook — The ALWD Citation Manual — or “ALWD” for short. Authored by Darby Dickerson at the behest of the Association of Legal Writing Directors, this new system of citation is like a Bluebook computer program with all of the bugs worked out. For instance, it uses familiar forms of citation, but makes the rules more consistent and easier to follow. And it bears a closer relationship to other professional systems of citation, yet is more flexible in its application. As a result, practitioners will not have to learn an entirely new system of citation; they need simply familiarize themselves with the modifications made in the name of uniformity and simplification. Among the most notable changes from Bluebook format made by Dickerson, the Director of Legal Research and Writing at Stetson University College of Law, are the elimination of a different style of citation for law reviews and differing fonts. No more small caps! The ALWD also returns to us the long-used definitions for signals set out in the 15th edition of The Bluebook and inexplicably modified in the 16th edition. Moreover, the new kid on the block can boast greater consistency among the rules regarding pagination. Importantly, little content is sacrificed. The ALWD Manual contains comprehensive coverage of state materials, including the official primary sources for each state and the court-mandated citation rules for every state. The only drawback to this first edition of the ALWD Manual is that citation forms for foreign and international materials will have to wait until the second edition is published in 2003. The manual itself is easy to use. It is readable, presentable, and clearly organized. It features “fast format” sections to provide a quick reference for the most commonly cited sources, diagrams of the components of a citation, and “side bar” pages for practical tips. Definitions and instructions are plentiful throughout, too. The ALWD Manual even includes a sample memorandum to demonstrate the proper usage and placement of citations. Perhaps most valuable is the Web site, which supports the manual. Located at www.alwd.org, the ALWD Web site includes updates, clarifications and an FAQ list. The site also contains an ongoing list of institutions that have adopted the ALWD Manual. As necessary, the site will feature updates of appendices and any additions or errata. Published by Aspen Law & Business, the ALWD Manual can be purchased at most law school bookstores and from a variety of online sources. Still, the success of this simplified, uniform system is not a done deal. Its future utility depends upon the willingness of practicing attorneys and the judiciary in Illinois as well as elsewhere to embrace it. Granted, a few states require that documents submitted to the court follow some form of Bluebook convention. But they will be lobbied to amend those requirements. The rest of us have no excuse. Law schools all over the country, nearly half of the ABA-accredited schools in fact, have adopted the manual in its first year of publication. Many more are soon to follow. As a result, many students will surely be entering the workplace with a working knowledge of this system. There will be the temptation, of course, to employ the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” approach to these things. This approach ignores the reality that The Bluebook has been broken for some time now — we have just grown accustomed to it. I say, do something radical. Throw off those Bluebook chains that bind you. Simplify! Adopt the ALWD system of citation. And spread the word. Maureen B. Collins is the director of legal writing at DePaul College of Law. She returns each summer to Sidley & Austin, where she practiced intellectual property law, to serve as professor in residence to the firm’s summer associates.

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