Providing authoritative support for assertions is a key component of legal writing. We learn to read and apply case law throughout our doctrinal classes. And 1L legal writing is dedicated to learning how to Bluebook. This is because the Bluebook provides rules for citing case law. But citation is about more than weird capitalization, obscure spacing rules, and periods. Case citations are important and have meaning. The accuracy of Bluebook citations has long been proxy for the substantive quality of a legal brief—now a quantitative study supports that notion.
In a study by Judicata, the company found that where there were small mistakes in Bluebook citations, these briefs were more likely to contain larger, substantive mistakes. In a memorable reference to the “broken windows” theory of policing, Judicata referred to this as the “broken cites” theory. And building on a study by Casetext, Judicata found that where there were incorrect cites, there was also missing precedent.
So does Bluebooking matter outside of law school? Absolutely.
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