Settle dispute - a comma after the date no matter what?

So a partner in my law firm says that you have to put a comma after the year in a month/day/year date configuration because the year is extraneous and you would not have a comma after the date if you used a month/day date configuration. I think (but have no authority and not that much time to look) that putting a comma in is odd in some contexts.

Which of the below is correct? Is it possible that both are correct? (Please ignore whether you like the sentence otherwise or not. Don’t try to fix it so the construction is different- I need to know this globally.)

  1. A revenue shortfall of 23% resulted in the May 6, 2010, lay-off of Mr. Jones.

  2. A revenue shortfall of 23% resulted in the May 6, 2010 lay-off of Mr. Jones.

Partner says #1 is correct and #2 is incorrect because if you did not include the 2010, you would have no comma after May 6:

  1. A revenue shortfall of 23% resulted in the May 6 lay-off of Mr. Jones.

Thanks in advance!

Yes. It’s a style choice, not a case of rigid right or wrong. FWIW, the Chicago Manual recommends the comma after the year in this construction. (However, if you’re using month/year, no commas: “. . . the May 2010 layoff. . . .”)

Thank you! At least I can show him I’m not *wrong. * If there’s no rule, he always plays the style card, so he still wins, but at least I know I don’t lose. :slight_smile:

Hmmm, any chance we work at the same place? I’m a partner in a law firm who says #1 is correct (no ifs, ands, buts, or lack of commas).

I don’t like that comma; get rid of it. I choose 2.

I’m in agreement. Since it’s a matter of style, I’d vastly prefer #2.

Hmm, I don’t know. I know you are not he, because for one thing he has no kids, but I suppose it is possible we work at the same firm. Which would be funny. Where are you? State? City? Sorry, no time to search out this info…

Notice I’m winning, though…thanks **Mean Old Lady **and asimovian

  1. I’m in Chicago, and my firm doesn’t have a San Diego office. So, guess it’s not the same firm after all (assuming your location is correct).

  2. One would be well advised to examine the quality of support for their position and not merely the quantity. (I kid! Here, I’ll prove it: :slight_smile: )

The way I was taught, the year is always set off with commas. I pick number one.

Of course, I’d have to call you out on mis-punctuating both my name and MeanOldLady’s. I’m no longer certain you can be trusted…

That is a skanky, dirty comma! I would choose number 2 and do pretty well anytime I’m writing business correspondence (which is pretty often), although never law briefs.

Here’s a question (or two) that may shed more light than everyone popping in to say they like this choice or that choice:

Does the OP’s law firm have a house style guide in place, or has it selected an established style guide to follow?

Failing that, is there some style guide that’s widely or preferentially used for legal writing?

I have a preference about the serial comma (fortunately shared by the style guides I’m usually asked to follow), but occasionally I’m asked to go the other way on a project. So I do. No big whoop.

Sorry!In my defense, may I state that the partner is indirectly paying me to care about the comma, and I must have enough billable hours so that he will keep doing so, while you, Asimovian and MeanOldLady, are paying me a whole lotta nuthin’ and are furthermore keeping me from meeting my hours requirement while I respond, so you should be happy I even bolded your names? :wink:

Yes and no. Yes, there are house style guides for some things, but not for this thing. Yes, there are definitely style guides for legal writing, and many things required and prohibited, but some style guides conflict, and some vary from state to state, court to court, etc. Furthermore, if there is an optional/stylistic choice to make, different partners will like different styles.

There are all manner of writing-style, working-style, speaking-style, dress-style (ok, I exaggerate), and personality-style differences to learn when working for different partners in a law firm (much the same as when working for different supervisors in other business environments). So, yeah, I do that all the time. But, as you say,* fortunately* your serial comma preference is the same as your style guide’s. Mine too – it’s one big serial comma party where I work. Unfortunately, I have to put a skanky, slutty, tarted-up, whorish, gold-digging comma after the date NO MATTER WHAT in every thing I produce for this partner, and it kills me. I hate it. I hate extra commas, that go where they shouldn’t go. (Heh.) So I like all these folks popping in to hurl epithets and cast withering glances at the extra comma so I can report back.

Of course, I will confess that the style guide you referred to prefers the comma. And now that I spent all this time writing this, I could have checked three style/reference guides. Oh well, this was more fun.

Nope, must not be.

Ha. :cool:

I say, tell your partner to write his or her own damn briefs and leave you out of it if there is going to be this idiotic insistence on poor grammar and punctuation choices. What’s the worst that can happen? You show 'em who’s boss!

-Asimovian, Rebellious Paralegal since 2002

“Layoff” is one word, no hyphen. :slight_smile:

2 just looks better and makes more sense.

  1. A revenue shortfall of 23% resulted in the layoff of Mr. Jones on May 6, 2010.

I’ve never heard of this “comma after the year” rule.

So are we supposed to write “Welcome to the 2020, Olympic Games.”?
That’s horrendous.

I believe it’s only required in the Month Date, Year construction.