News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.

Archive for the ‘Legal Writing and Citation’


Beware the Copyright Traps

Copyright traps are fabrications deliberately tucked into otherwise factual publications in order to detect third-party copying. Duke’s Law Library’s blog highlights some of the most common traps.

For more information on the related topic of plagiarism, check out C|M|Law Library’s Scholarly Writing Resource Guide, which contains useful information for researchers, writers, and students.

What Goes In the Parens When You’re Citing to the U.S. Code

Based on the Bluebook, if you’re citing to the United States Code, you may or may not need something more than just the year in the parens. If you’re citing to the official United States Code, all you need is the year:

  • 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2012).

If you’re citing to one of the two unofficial versions of the U.S. Code, then you’ll need to include the publisher:

  • 12 U.S.C.A. § 1426 (West 2010).
  • 12 U.S.C.S. § 1710 (LexisNexis 1993).

One trick to remember who publishes which unofficial version of the Code – the U.S.C.S. ends in “S” and Lexis ends in “S”.

CALI Lessons on Ohio Law

CALI – the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction – offers hundreds of online tutorials to help law students learn and review important legal concepts through interactive and self-paced lessons. Registration is required and CM Law students can get the authorization code here.

If your summer legal work involves Ohio law, CALI offers you three lessons to review what you’ve learned –

CALI lessons cover a wide range of topics, and some are even keyed to specific casebooks. Check them out.

How to Cite to a Restatement

Unlike some other legal secondary sources, Restatements are very authoritative, meaning that they can be good to cite in legal documents. Produced by scholars from the American Law Institute, the Restatements provide a clear overview of the law in a given area (the “blackletter law”) and additionally provide helpful comments and illustrations. Some of the topics covered by Restatements include: torts, contracts, trusts, and unfair competition. Not all legal topics have a corresponding Restatement.

The Bluebook rule 12.9.4 explains how to cite a Restatement. This rule also covers model codes, principles, standards, sentencing guidelines, and uniform acts.

Here’s an example of how you’d cite to a provision on defective food products from the Restatement on torts:

Restatement (Third) of Torts § 7 (Am. Law Inst. 1998).

Rule 12.9.4 also gives you guidance on Restatement subtitles, comments, and illustrations.

More Tools to Improve Your Writing

Did you miss last week’s post about Grammarly? Here are two more editing tools that can improve your writing. Lawyers are often known for their verbose writing. That’s not necessarily a good thing. WordRake is a software add-on for Microsoft Word and Outlook that edits your documents for clarity. As the name implies, the program rakes through your document, eliminating unnecessary words and suggesting tighter, more cogent language. This program is subscription-based, but a free trial is available. You may also check out the WordRake blog and free writing tips.

Another option is PerfectIt by Intelligent Editing, a proofreading tool that checks your documents for abbreviations, style consistency, spelling, typos, lists, and tables. Specifically for legal writing, PerfectIt checks Bluebook citations, legal-specific typos, and terms of art. PerfectIt is also subscription-based and offers a free trial. You may find some helpful tips in the Legal Editing section of the Intelligent Editing blog.