Lexis’s ‘Copy With Cite’ Is Not Necessarily Right

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There is no question that The Bluebook is a scourge that should probably be killed dead and replaced with an open source citation generator like almost every other citation scheme out there. That said, automating the creation of cites isn’t always exact. Witness, for example, what happens on occasion with the “copy with cite” feature that Lexis boasts.

Prior to printing and filing final briefs with the D.C. Circuit, we had a lawyer proofread. She found deviations from the Blue Book in nearly every citation in the brief. It turned out we had relied on the Lexis “Copy with cite” feature.

I picked out 5 citations that were representative of the deviations from the Blue Book and asked another attorney to copy them from Westlaw for comparison. Westlaw conformed to the Blue Book on all of them.

Ouch. The errors ranged from incorrect renderings of reporter names to non-standard abbreviations to incorrect court names. None of them were fatal in that a judge or opposing counsel could certainly have figured out what case the cite referred to, but that isn’t really the point. “Copy with cite” isn’t supposed to mean “copy with a rough approximation of the Bluebook cite” even if we can all agree that the Bluebook is basically a repository of hidebound rules.

2016-03-01. According to a reader, you may be able to get Lexis to play nice with a settings change:

When you go to copy with cite on Lexis or Westlaw, you have the option to choose a citation format style (standard – i.e. “bluebook” – ALWD, state specific, etc.). Perhaps this attorney forgot to change her style selection to Standard, which should put the citations in Bluebook format.

Why the Standard setting would not also be the default setting, we have no idea. Here’s more from the LexisNexis documentation. —Ed.

2016-03-03. I checked with the author of the post to which Lisa originally linked, and he says changing the LexisNexis setting will not result in correct BlueBook citations. —Ed.

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