Vol. 29, No. 7
From Our Readers
From Our Readers
by Marc A. Nichols
As a recent member of the Colorado Bar, I have become a fan of the interesting columns in The Colorado Lawyer, especially K.K. DuVivier's column, "The Scrivener: Modern Legal Writing." I admire the straightforward style in which DuVivier approaches each topic and the useful reminders she supplies.
However, DuVivier's most recent column, titled Legal Citations for the Twenty-first Century [29 The Colorado Lawyer 45 (May 2000)], took me aback. The column seemed less like a writing column and more like an advertisement not so cleverly dressed in writing column drag. While taking no position on whether the Bluebook or the Association of Legal Writing Directors' manual is better for legal practitioners, I do take umbrage with DuVivier's failure to disclose to her readers that she is a member of the Association of Legal Writing Directors, [whose] manual she asks her readers to accept as the standard citation source instead of the ubiquitous Bluebook.
DuVivier correctly points out early in her column that while a judge may not rule against you for poor citation skills, it does "reflect poorly on you" and might mislead a judge into believing something untrue. As a Colorado Lawyer writer, I assume that DuVivier is giving her colleagues in the bar objective information upon which members of the bar can use as they see fit. While this one misstep probably won't keep me from reading her column, it does reflect poorly on DuVivier (and The Colorado Lawyer for being used in this manner) and misleads her readers about the objective information we assume she is giving us, her colleagues—or at least this one.
All I ask for is truth in advertising.
Marc A. Nichols, Denver
K.K. DuVivier Responds:
Mr. Nichols believes that I should have disclosed in the May Scrivener that I was a member of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) that publishes the ALWD Citation Manual. However, I did not make such a disclosure because I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of ALWD.
To become a member of ALWD, one must be a director of a legal writing program, and I was never eligible to join. However, on June 1, 2000, I started work as Director of the Lawyering Process program here at the University of Denver, and I look forward to joining the ranks of ALWD and to attending my first ALWD meeting in July. Once I had accepted my position here at DU, ALWD extended the courtesy of placing me on their e-mail distribution lists so that I could be privy to information about the Manual in preparing my column. This may be why Mr. Nichols was led to believe I was a member of ALWD when I wrote the May Scrivener.
In addition, I played no role in the production of the Manual, nor have I ever met or spoken by phone with the lead author, Darby Dickerson. (I did e-mail her with questions relating to the article, and after the Manual was published, I learned from a friend that a 1994 Scrivener column is cited on page 380 as the source for Colorado court citation forms that were provided to me by Leo Smith who created many of those forms and who served as Reporter of Decisions for the Colorado Court of Appeals for 29 years.)
The May 2000 column was written not to promote ALWD or the Manual, but to make Colorado practitioners aware of a phenomenon that seems to be sweeping across the country and that soon may impact their practices. In legal writing circles, the publication of the Manual was anticipated with much excitement because the previews touted the Manual's goals of simplifying citations, making them more uniform, and presenting the information in a more practitioner-friendly manner. The response to its publication in April 2000 has been extraordinary: more than a third of the ABA-accredited law schools have adopted it for next fall, and some predict that over half of the schools will adopt it by the time fall book orders are in. In addition, several paralegal schools and state courts have expressed interest in adopting the Manual citation forms.
Only time will tell whether the Manual will supplant the 70-year-old Bluebook, but I felt a book that had such a remarkable adoption rate in less than six months from its introduction was something to be taken seriously and that I would be doing my readers a service by making them aware of it.
K.K. DuVivier, Denver
We encourage letters about articles published, bar projects, and suggestions for improvements to the journal for consideration by The Colorado Lawyer Board of Editors. Some of these letters will be published in this space and/ or used for long-range planning for both the Colorado Bar Association and The Colorado Lawyer. We obtain express permission before publication from letter writers. Please let us know how you feel!
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