Attorney Referencing: the why and the how

Attorneys often use references to precedent in legal papers as a way to support their arguments. Precedent refers to a prior decision made by a court in a similar case. By citing precedent, an attorney is attempting to show that the same outcome should be expected in the current case. This helps to bolster the attorney’s argument and increase the chances of success in the case. Precedent can be used to support a particular legal argument, or to show why a particular outcome should be expected. By citing precedent, attorneys can help strengthen their case and make a more convincing argument to the court. Blue booking is a term used to describe the practice of citing legal authority in legal documents.

When blue booking, an attorney will cite the relevant legal authority (case law, statutes, etc.) to support their argument. This can include citing case law to support a particular legal argument, citing statutes that apply to the case, or citing other legal authorities such as treatises or law review articles. Blue booking is an important part of legal writing, as it helps to demonstrate that the legal arguments are well-grounded in legal authority. By citing legal authority, attorneys can help to strengthen their argument and increase the chances of success in the case.

Some examples are:
1. “The court held in Doe v. Smith, 12 WL 123 (2012), that the defendant was liable for damages.” 2. “The court noted in Johnson v. Brown, 15 WL 456 (2015), that the defendant’s actions were not reasonable.” 3. “The court held in Smith v. Jones, 18 WL 789 (2018), that the plaintiff’s contract was valid and enforceable.” 4. “The court found in Doe v. Smith, 21 WL 901 (2021), that the defendant was responsible for negligence.” 5. “The court concluded in Johnson v. Brown, 24 WL 102 (2024), that the plaintiff’s claim was valid.”