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Ask the Dean

Headlines for the Week of November 21, 2011

Ask the Dean

Starting this week, the SBA will be hosting a new Record section called "Ask the Dean." We will be posting a question directly to Dean Krent along with his response to that question. If there is anything on your mind that you would like to ask the Dean, this is your opportunity. Please submit questions to sbachicagokent@gmail.com.

Q&A with Dean Krent

November 21, 2011 -- Question: Why does our legal writing program use the ALWD manual for citation?  It seems as though most other schools, as well as law firms, courts, etc. use Bluebook.  Having to learn a new system of citation puts us at a disadvantage in our current/future jobs, as well as if we participate in law review, moot court, etc. 

Answer: From Mary Rose Strubbe, Professor of Legal Research and Writing; Director of the Legal Research and Writing Program; and Assistant Director of the Institute for Law and the Workplace: Chicago-Kent’s writing program  adopted the ALWD Citation Manual in the late 1990s, when it was first published.  The impetus for the creation of the Manual, and for its adoption at C-K, was a particularly dense new edition of the Bluebook in which the authors changed several rules for no discernible reason, added lots of minutiae, and provided virtually no examples and an almost unusable index.  The ALWD Manual’s stated reasons for being were to change rules only when there was a good reason, to provide a usable index, and to provide useful examples.

I think the ALWD Manual does a reasonably good job of achieving these objectives.  Since the initial publication of the ALWD Manual, the Bluebook has added examples and has refrained from too many arbitrary changes in rules.

I don’t think the use of the ALWD Manual in any way disadvantages our students.  The basic citation rules for practitioner writing in ALWD and the Bluebook are the same.  Thus, if a lawyer hands you a draft memorandum of law to a trial court and asks you if you know how to “Bluebook,” I advise my students to say “yes,” because for all practical, day to day purposes, they do.  And if they are confused about the more esoteric rules, and work for a lawyer who lives with the current version of the Bluebook (highly unlikely), they can go to the ALWD website and download the handy charts outlining the differences in ALWD and Bluebook citation rules. The Bluebook is “used” by most law reviews as the bible for formatting law review article footnotes, not for writing to courts.  Further, over the past fifteen years there has been a proliferation of citation manuals and systems, and I expect this trend to increase in future.  For example, Judge Posner, of the Seventh Circuit, has created his own set of “rules” for his clerks, and views all formal citation manuals as too large and nonsensically nitpicky (I hope he will forgive me for the brief paraphrase of his published views).  Other court systems and states have moved to other citation systems, without regard for the Bluebook or ALWD’s views on citation. 

So I think the citation manual from which students learn basic citation is of diminishing importance.

November 7, 2011 -- Question: Several students have questions about the law school's budget. How are recent upgrades, such as the wireless system and classroom technology, funded? How are smaller additions funded, such as the kiosk in front of the school? Do those upgrades come solely from tuition? What did the revenue from the tuition increase fund?

Answer: Every year in the fall, IIT requests each college to prepare a proposed budget for the following fiscal year (June1 – May 31st). In the last few years with the advent of the economic crisis, the expectation is that the operating budget will be the same as the year before, although each college can reallocate monies from one department to another. Raises for faculty and staff during the same period have been minimal to nonexistent. Some of the modest tuition increase has been directed towards raises (e.g., promotions), some towards increased health care costs, some towards increased student scholarships, and some to help the university escape from its budget deficit (which thankfully will occur by the end of this fiscal year). 

Nonetheless, unexpected expenses arise that we then must fund through prior savings, philanthropy, or an appeal to the main administration. For example, in the past two years we have been forced to replace the fire alarm system and the concrete around the building, decided to establish a new wireless system throughout the building, and decided to start enhancing the technology in the classrooms. The SBA pushed for the latter two projects, and we agreed that both projects would benefit students considerably over time. The university chipped in and helped with the fire alarm system, and we dipped into savings to pay for the concrete project and classroom technology upgrade. Indeed, had we not used that particular pot of money for the technology upgrade (or for a similar project), we would have lost it per university policy. We generally cannot rely upon savings to fund law school operations without special permission from the university. In the absence of budgeted monies, we must rely on philanthropy. Indeed, we resorted to philanthropy exclusively to design, acquire, and build the kiosk and sign in the front of the building. Currently, we are looking to philanthropy to be able to build a second (smaller) courtroom. I am just hopeful that we will not have to tackle any other major unforeseen project in the near future!

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