Legal Case Citation Basics


What is case citation? It is a system that is followed by the common law countries like the US, Canada India, and the UK. In this system whenever legal / litigation related research is done, past court cases have to be located in a series of law reports which are available in accumulated bounded volumes. Legal research is all about identifying and retrieving information necessary to support legal decision-making. Thus, case citations are used by the law professionals to claim strength to their cases and the law. Case citations usually contain,

  • Case title


  • Volume number


  • Page number


  • Year of decision

  • For example, in the United States case citation is followed according to the following format: John v. Bob, 510 U.S. 121 (1977).
    Here John is the plaintiff, and Bob is the defendant. 510 refer to the volume of the law report. The number 121 is the page number in the volume. The year of decision of the case, 1977, is indicated inside the brackets.
    Actually during legal research, deciphering of legal citations and its creation can be very challenging and time consuming. Hence quite often this work may be outsourced to professional legal research outsource providers. One can refer to the private online services research portals like LexisOne and Westlaw and then choose/prepare legal citations. In this context the hotter the cited case, the better. There are basically both proprietary and public domain citation systems. The Bluebook is a public domain Uniform System of Citation style guide and is the widely used legal citation system in the United States.




    The author of this article is John Kessel of Managed Outsource Solutions, a US based company that offers legal outsourcing services in Legal Outsourcing, Legal Transcription for clients across the US.

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