Good citation requires critical analysis because well-supposed legal analysis requires a layered understanding of how legal authority may be used in different ways. Simultaneously, it demands good judgment in making the best decisions about how to introduce and employ the relevant cases on a particular case. Teaching how to cite legal authorities includes framing because all legal authorities are potential tools for argument. In deciding whether and how to deploy cases, statutes, and other forms of legal authority, advocates must resolve two interrelated questions in rapid sequence:
1. Can I frame or characterize the authority in question in a particular (strategically advantageous) manner within the bounds of the law?
2. Should I push my interpretation and use of this authority as far as I might, or will doing so strain my credibility more than it will strengthen my position?
Once law students recognize that citing cases and statutes can be part of an exciting array of strategic considerations and not solely a dry exercise in tedious obligation, they can also understand the stakes involved in citing them appropriately and correctly.
". . . See Erie.": Critical Study of Legal Authority,
31 U. Ark. Little Rock L. Rev. 109
Available at: http://lawrepository.ualr.edu/lawreview/vol31/iss1/2