Legal Writing

Footnote Furor

Two posts at legal writing blogs Tuesday about footnotes.

Raymond Ward at the (new) legal writer links to a paper at SSRN (Social Science Research Network) by Professor Douglas Abrams called “Those Pesky Footnotes — Part I.”  According to Ward:

Professor Abrams divides footnotes into two groups that most of use are familiar with: citation-only footnotes and textual footnotes. Citational footnotes can be useful, Prof. Abrams writes, if they are kept lean. They show the support for the writer’s assertions without cluttering up the text. Textual footnotes, on the other hand, are usually useless to briefwriters for one simple reason: hardly anybody reads them. And anything that is not read cannot persuade.      

See Ward’s post for the links.

In a post with subheadings “In-Text Citation Bad” and “Footnotes Good,” Professor Wayne Schiess provides a wonderfully amusing illustration of why he feels that way.