Judge Richard Posner thinks we should “burn The Bluebook.”
Ok, sure, what lawyer hasn’t thought that at some point? It does feel arcane, tedious, and unreasonably nuanced some times. But we need rules! We like rules – we’re lawyers, after all!
Yes The Bluebook is a large reference guide, but only because it endeavors to be all-encompassing. It’s reassuring to know that when I’m writing a brief and find myself unsure as to how to cite, say, a Senate floor speech (we’ll address the judgment of using a Senator’s remarks as legal support for another time), I can grab my book, flip to the appropriate page, and Voila! Just plug and play. Without it, our legal documents, with their necessary citations, would be scattered and messy.
And what’s the alternative? The above-referenced article includes a link to Judge Posner’s own 5-page legal citation style guide. It’s okay. I can see it being helpful to some, but not all. It’s too idiosyncratic to his style of writing, and it leaves out a lot of important information. And I’m assuming that the only reason Judge Posner has developed these feelings regarding The Bluebook is because he learned it, used it, and now [likely] finds much of it superfluous. It’s fine to feel that way after a long, distinguished career on the bench, but what about 1Ls trying to grapple with the difference between Id. and supra?
Frankly, I love The Bluebook and always will. It taught me the importance of paying attention to detail in legal writing, and I will defend to the end (not death, that’s silly) our right/need to use it.