Bottomheavy: Legal Footnotes

As someone who has mined footnotes for years, all I can say is:  Please, sir, I’d like some more.

“Bottomheavy: Legal Footnotes”

JOAN A. MAGAT, Duke University – School of Law

For decades, legal footnotes have been the deserving target of both ample criticism and self-mockery. Apart from their complaints as to footnotes’ mere existence, most critics draw a bead on the ballooning of footnote content. Some journal editors, aspiring to respond to this sound theme, hopefully inform their authors of a preference for “light footnoting.” But where does an author begin to trim, and what editor has the audacity to slash what the author (or her research assistant) has so laboriously compiled below the line? Changing our footnote habits is about benefits and costs. To gain the former, we must ante up. If criticism began the round of bidding, this article modestly raises the stakes, suggesting a rule of reason that might govern the author’s, the editor’s, and the reader’s expectations for footnotes. A gamble, perhaps, but one that might be worth taking.

 

Source:  LSN Law & Rhetoric Vol. 2 No. 90,  12/18/2009

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This entry was posted in Footnotes, Law reviews, Legal periodicals and tagged by Paul Lomio. Bookmark the permalink.

About Paul Lomio

Paul is library director and lecturer at law at Stanford Law School. He has a J.D. from Gonzaga Law School, an LL.M. from the University of Washington, and a M.L.I.S. from the Catholic University of America. He is the author (with Henrik Spang-Hanssen) of Legal Research Methods in the U.S. and Europe. He also likes to ride his bicycle.

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