After spending 4 years doing other sorts of graduate coursework before starting my JD, I was pretty surprised when I learned that many (most?) legal academics don’t use reference management software. However, after an introduction to the Bluebook, I realized why this is probably the case. One of the best features these sorts of programs provide is the ability to automatically generate and dynamically update the citations in a paper-in-progress. Unfortunately, the Bluebook is so (needlessly?) complex that until recently there wasn’t a good implementation of BB style citations by any of the major citation management packages.
Enter MLZ, a branch of the open source Zotero program aimed at implementing a number of multi-language features (hence the name “MultiLingual Zotero”). But the “killer feature” as far as legal writing goes is the MLZ Bluebook style. While MLZ’s bluebooking isn’t perfect, I’ve seen many hundreds of submitted law review articles and I’d wager that a paper written solely relying on MLZ’s automatic citation generation would be in better bluebooking shape than most of the articles that student reviewers receive. And, for better or worse, the state of one’s citations is probably an important factor in determining how your article is perceived by reviewers.