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The Art of Persuasion Through Legal Citations, by Susan W. Fox and Wendy S. Loquasto, 84 Fla. B. J. 40 (2010).


Persuasive citation of legal authority is an essential part of legal writing. Proper citation involves knowing not only the basic form for citing cases, constitutions, statutes, rules, books, articles, and other legal authority,1 but also requires understanding the purposes and best practices for citing legal authority. The purpose of this article is to help you develop a more persuasive and effective citation style by discussing development of a citation plan, the hierarchy of authority, the role of courts and precedent; the use of pinpoint cites, parentheticals, and signals; and placement of citations.

The primary purposes of citation are support and attribution for the propositions advanced by the author. Proper citation further requires consideration of the source of the applicable law, whether the authority is binding or merely persuasive and the credibility attributable to the author or authority cited. In short, persuading a court to follow precedent, distinguish it, or overrule it — as the case requires to advance your client’s position — is in large part dependent upon credible citations and sound reasoning based upon the citations. . . .