September 26, 2008

Law and Lyrics

Alex B. Long, University of Tennessee College of Law, has published "[Insert Song Lyrics Here]: The Uses and Misuses of Popular Music Lyrics In Legal Writing," in volume 64 of the Washington and Lee Law Review (2007).

Legal writers frequently utilize the lyrics of popular music artists to help advance a particular theme or argument in legal writing. And if the music we listen to says something about us as individuals, then the music we, the legal profession as a whole, write about may something about who we are as a profession. A study of citations to popular artists in law journals reveals that, not surprisingly, Bob Dylan is the most popular artist in legal scholarship. The list of names of the other artists rounding out the Top Ten essentially reads like a Who's Who of baby boomer favorites. Often, attorneys use the lyrics of popular music in fairly predictable ways in their writing, sometimes with adverse impact on the persuasiveness of the argument they are advancing. However, if one digs deeper, one can find numerous instances in which legal writers incorporate the lyrics of popular music into their writing in more creative ways.

Download the article from SSRN here.

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