In late 2015, Professor Emeritus Peter Martin released the latest edition of his ever-popular Introduction to Basic Legal Citation. Available online as well as in e-book format, the new edition also includes video tutorials.
Whether it is in law school or in professional practice, there is no doubt that proper legal citation is a fundamental skill for lawyers. Most, if not all law, students are either assigned The Bluebook or the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation as the primary guides to legal citation, which brings into question how Introduction to Basic Legal Citation stands out.
According to Martin, whereas the former two guides mainly focus on legal citation used within writing in law school or academic journal publication, his guide concentrates more on legal citation used by practicing lawyers.
"Introduction to Legal Citation is focused on the types of authority most frequently cited in professional writing and aims at aiding mastery of the basics rather than pinning down all possible situations," says Martin. Because of this, Introduction aims at not only identifying the most important points of legal citation, but also focuses on "evolving usage reflected in legal memoranda and briefs prepared by practicing lawyers." Issues raised by that evolution are addressed in his blog, "Citing Legally."
During the 2014-2015 academic year, over 56,000 copies of the ebook were downloaded. Furthermore, the video tutorials have accumulated over 15,000 views. These statistics in relation to the academic timeline suggest that, "the heaviest use is by students who are learning how to do professional legal writing with appropriate citations to supporting authorities," says Martin.
Looking ahead, Martin has been working closely with a team of computer-science graduate students and the Legal Information Institute to improve the user experience for those accessing the guide via smartphones and tablets. The new design and user interface for the web version is set to be completed soon and will be ready to implement for the 2016 edition.