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

Archive for the ‘Legal Writing and Citation’


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.

Law Library Legal Research Seminars – Always Available for You!

Law Library Legal Research Seminars are for C|M|LAW students, including our MLS and LLM students.  The Seminars are continuously available online via the Westlaw TWEN platform.  You earn points for completing an online Seminar by correctly answering 3/4 of the questions on that Seminar’s quiz.  Your Seminar points are good for the entire time you are here at C|M|LAW.  When you earn 100 points, you are awarded a Law Library Legal Research Letter of Recognition and a Digital Badge, which you can post to your LinkedIn page.  You can earn multiple Letters and Digital Badges.  Here are the currently available online Law Library Legal Research Seminars:

  • Starting Research with Secondary Sources – Why recreate the wheel? Examine how secondary sources explain and analyze “the law” for you, as well as cite primary authority. [17:02 mins; 12.5 points]
  • Westlaw Overview – [10:48 mins; 12.5 points] – Leap beyond Google and start to harness this legal research gtiant. Understand big box and pre-filtered searching, as well as how to print/download/email search results.
  • KeyCite – [10:16 mins; 12.5 points] – Why is a red flag different from a yellow flag, and what should you do when you see either one? Learn how to use the Westlaw citator service to update and expand your research.
  • Lexis Advance Overview – [21:11 mins; 12.5 points] – One more time, leap beyond Google and start to harness this legal research gtiant. Understand big box and pre-filtered searching, as well as how to print/download/email search results.
  • Shepard’s – [11:54 mins; 12.5 points] – Why is a red stop sign different from a yellow triangle, and what should you do when you see either one? Learn how to use the Lexis Advance citator service to update and expand your research.
  • Terms & Connectors Searching – Explore the power of search techniques beyond natural language searching. Learn the basics of combining terms & phrases in effective search statements. [10:48 mins; 12.5 points]
  • Bluebooking – For faster legal drafting, review how to effectively apply citation and style rules, as well as abbreviation and jurisdiction tables. [38:47 mins; 25 points]
  • Administrative Law – [29:59 mins; 25 points] Break through the mysteries of agency rulemaking and case adjudication. Learn the key resources for finding federal and Ohio agency regulations and decisions.
  • Bioethics Resources & Scholarly Writing – Examine a wide array of bioethics resources, and learn how these resources can be used to select a paper topic and conduct effective research on that topic. [28:33 mins; 25 points]

For more information on the Law Library Legal Research Seminars, contact Laura Ray, Outreach & Instructional Services Librarian.