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Citing to electronic resources is increasingly problematic for many attorneys, but it’s the new order in legal research. Having to master new techniques, as well as learn new citation formats, can be demanding, but making the adjustment is necessary. The 17th edition of The Bluebook finally acknowledges this new world order. We won’t go so far as to say it is totally accepting of the new order, but at least it is on the right track. And it arrived early. The 17th edition was not due until this year, but it arrived in the fourth quarter of last year. Maybe the editors couldn’t wait to share their new rules for electronic citation, or maybe it was the publication of a strong potential rival by the Association of Legal Writing Directors. The ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation arrived last year and is gaining ground in law schools. It is estimated that half of our law schools have adopted ALWD. There is a good chance the two legal citation systems will run concurrently, at least for a while. And there is an even greater chance that a law school graduate in the next three years will have little or no exposure to The Bluebook. The ALWD manual is designed to be straightforward and much easier to use. It has the potential to loosen the hold of The Bluebook as the standard for our legal citation system. With that said, why should you care about the new rules for electronic citation in The Bluebook? Because unless you plan to learn the ALWD system, you need to understand The Bluebook’s approach to electronic resources. Learning two new rules is much easier to handle than learning a whole new system. Bluebook Rule 10.3 finally accepts the growing public domain citation format. Also known as “vendor-neutral citation” or “universal citation,” 10.3 states that if the court is using public domain citation, the public domain citation must be provided. However, it follows with the tired and vague: “as well as a parallel citation to the regional reporter, if available.” What does “available” mean to you? That it exists at all? Somewhere? Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines the word “available” as “present or ready for immediate use.” To us, “available” is relative. That it is not in my office means it is not available to me. That it is not in my law firm’s library means it is not available to me. The only resources I consider ready for immediate use are those on my desktop, at my fingertips. What is available to me may not be the same as to you. Rule 10.3.1 does go on to state that if a case is not available in an official or preferred unofficial reporter or as a public domain citation, cite another unofficial reporter, a widely used computer database, a service, a slip opinion, an Internet source or a newspaper. The bigger rule news in the 17th edition is Rule 18. Rule 18 is a new rule dealing with “Electronic Media and Other Nonprint Resources.” Rule 18.1 covers commercial databases such as Lexis and Westlaw, and 18.2 covers the Internet. Rule 18.2 is comprehensive and includes basic citation forms, changed or multiple URLs, date of citation and/or access, books and magazines, other secondary sources, and even e-mail correspondence and ListServ postings. The introduction to Rule 18 includes a “print source” statement. “This rule requires the use and citation of traditional printed sources, except when the information is not available in a printed source, or if the traditional source is obscure or hard to find and when citation to an electronic source will substantially improve access to the same information contained in the traditional source.” Perhaps Rule 18 is not as ambiguous as Rule 10.3.1, but once again we choose to view “available” as relative. For more on the ALWD manual, go to http://www.alwd.org/. The Cornell site, “Basic Legal Citation,” by faculty member Peter Martin, is a must for the Bluebook-challenged: http://www2.law.cornell.edu/ cgi-bin/foliocgi.exe/citation. Bobbi Cross ([email protected]) is the director of research and information resources at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis. Annemarie Lorenzen ([email protected]) is a reference librarian at Schnader. Both are members of the Greater Philadelphia Law Library Association.

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