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Wednesday, January 09, 2013


I’ve noticed that a fair number of academics—whether in scholarship, in casebooks, or in blog posts—have gravitated toward combining the case titles of the two significant Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) & 12(b)(6) cases from the Supreme Court in the past decade, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, into the portmanteau “Twiqbal.” Akin to Chunnel, or Brangelina, this neologism seems irresistible. (It’s in a dozen or so Prawfs posts, so it must hold influence.)

A cursory search of Westlaw, however, suggests that the novel phrase has found essentially no support in judicial cases. The Court issued its opinion in Iqbal, the later of the two cases, on May 18, 2009. It has been cited over 110,000 times, according to the generously-inclusive category of “citing references” on Westlaw, with nearly half of those references (over 50,000) in case opinions. I found just four federal judicial opinions using the phrase “Twiqbal”: two from December 2012, an unpublished opinion from 2011, and one from 2010, for 0.008% Iqbal references. And while Iqbal is mentioned in approximately 860 law review articles, “Twiqbal” has around 18 references, or 2%.

Perhaps 18 journal mentions, along with online culture (it only has a few thousand Google hits), is not enough to suggest that the trend among academics diverges significantly from the actual practice of law. I wonder, though: is it too much to think that the academy ought to adopt the language used by courts, rather than develop its own, dare I say cute, terminology that bears little resemblance to reality? Or, am I just too stodgy (probably), drawing trends from small numbers (definitely), and a real bore at parties (absolutely)?

Posted by Derek Muller on January 9, 2013 at 08:45 AM in Civil Procedure | Permalink


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We commonly refer to it as "Twiqbal" in chambers. Don't think that anyone's ever tried to slip that in an opinion, though.

Posted by: Clerk | Jan 9, 2013 10:16:53 AM

Cute post title!

Posted by: b | Jan 9, 2013 9:29:04 AM

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