Recently I sat in on a book talk with Professor Carolyn V. Williams,* the author of the newly released 7th edition of the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation. ALWD, she explained, is designed to complement the Bluebook while also serving as a teaching tool for legal writing instructors and an easy-to-use resource for students and legal practitioners. With that in mind, there were two main goals for the new edition: 1) maintaining conformity with national standards and 2) ease of use.
To maintain conformity, Prof Williams focused on consistency with the Bluebook by keeping the same exact citations. In addition, “call outs” to the Bluebook are incorporated in Appendix 8. The “call outs” note precisely where in the Bluebook a user can find the rule. In some instances, the Bluebook does not address a specific citation point. For example, how does someone cite to an interview — especially an interview conducted on Zoom? Prof Williams created citation rules for this and other technological sources that have not always been thought about or even considered until COVID-19. The section on citing to practice documents was overhauled as e-filing has become the norm, providing guidance, for example, on how to reference electronic case files (ECF) numbering.
Because ALWD is also a teaching tool, Prof Williams researched how students learn so as to create a book that students would find easy to use. She included more visuals and explanations. Diagrams are color coded and “snapshots,” actual pages from a book or document, offer real-world context for students. Charts of abbreviations are included in relevant chapters for quick access. Additionally, favorites, such as the red triangles that indicate spacing were retained, along with Fast Formats, quick reference to citation formats, and the Sidebars, short informational snippets that explain “why” or offer background on a resource. Prof Williams also reviewed guide examples, revising to reflect diversity and inclusion.
New — and cool — to this edition is the online availability of two appendices. Appendix 2, Local Court Citation Rules and Appendix 5, Periodicals and Looseleaf Services are free to access at the Wolters Kluwer website (scroll and click on Student Resources): https://www.wklegaledu.com/Williams-ALWDGuideLegalCitation7. Accessibility to Local Court Citation Rules means students and practitioners who find themselves working in different jurisdictions need only look online to locate relevant local information. In Appendix 5, every imaginable periodical and resource are listed along with its corresponding abbreviation.
Some differences between ALWD and the Bluebook do appear. They are small, but interesting. For example, the Bluebook uses “e-mail.” ALWD dispenses with the hyphen and uses “email.” ALWD changed LEXIS to Lexis. After consulting with many people, including LexisNexis, Prof Williams could not find anyone who capitalized every letter of the word. With the proliferation of databases and variations of commonly used legal databases, ALWD suggests being specific about the database being cited. For example, if the user’s research comes from using Westlaw Classic, state Westlaw Classic (not just Westlaw) in the citation. On the other hand, if the user’s research comes from using Westlaw Edge, state Westlaw Edge in the citation (again, not just Westlaw).
It goes without saying this new edition was a massive undertaking and took a lot of work. Prof Williams had numerous discussions nationwide across states, including time spent talking to practitioners learning what they needed. She also communicated with Bluebook editors, asking questions and even, on occasion, noting an error.
At the end of the book talk, Prof Williams was asked what she learned from the process. Barely skipping a beat, she said: “I learned everyone has an opinion on citations, and they are not afraid to share it.”
*Prof Williams is an Assoc Prof of Legal Writing and Asst Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson, Arizona.