Monday, September 19, 2011

The Style Manual Survives

As the State Bar Annual Meeting proceeded, the Conference of California Bar Associations convened at the Queen Mary.  Delgations from local bar associations across the state met to debate hot-button legal issues and vote on resolutions proposing changes to California statutes and rules.  Approved resolutions are entrusted to our lobbyist to find state senators and assembly members to sponsor enacting legislation.  The Legislature regularly passes bills proposed by our Conference.

It was an eventful conference.  Incoming State Bar president Jon Streeter, a former convention delegate, came by over the weekend to address us, as did former State Bar president and LACBA delegate John Van de Kamp.  We discussed the conference's future, as well as proposals affecting substantive changes to civil procedure, real property, family law, civil rights, and other areas.

Not all topics were equally weighty, though.

Toward the end of Saturday's meeting, we devoted a few minutes of lively, respectful debate to this issue:  should we abandon the California Style Manual and its system of citation and usage, adopting instead the Bluebook used by federal court and state court nationwide (except, I think, here and in Oklahoma)? 

The proponent made an impassioned plea for entrusting usage decisions to each author, and challenged opponents to point out any affirmative advantage to using the Style Manual.  The opponents noted that private lawyers are not bound by the Style Manual, and that our willingness to reject conformity and follow our own path is one of the things that makes this state great. 

The proponent scored the "moral victory" of receiving commendation from the chair for a spirited presentation.

The opponents scored the "actual victory" of winning.