Language of Law

Language of Law
Language of Law

Lawyers often use an esoteric language, but this doesn’t have to discourage you from learning what they know. In this post, we break down the basics of legal jargon and provide a list of the most commonly used words in a lawyer’s vocabulary.

If you’re a lawyer, use this list as a cheat sheet. If you’re not a lawyer, it can help you decipher what is being said in court or on the witness stand.


WARNING: The following list contains some of the most common words used by lawyers. If you’re reading this post, that means that there are some terms that may have been thrown at you so casually that they went over your head.


Don’t worry! We break down the unfamiliar legal terms below and explain them in plain English. The last section explains how to read and study up on legal jargon so that you can impress your future employer and your soon-to-be when interviewing for legal positions.


Abatement – The suppression or discontinuance of something; the removal of a legal proceeding through a court order.


Accord and Satisfaction – A satisfaction given to one who has been injured or suffered loss. The payment is in lieu of commencing an action in court against the person who caused harm to you. It is similar to a compromise except that the parties agree that no suit will be brought on either side, but the terms are not usually disclosed; it is usually done with confidential settlement agreements.


Actionable – Lawful for a plaintiff to file a lawsuit for damages with respect to an injury; to be actionable, there must be some remedy available.


Ad Hoc – For a particular purpose only, usually in order to solve a problem. Example: Lawyers representing the family members of 9/11 victims created an ad hoc committee to distribute the compensation received from suing the government for their loss.


Advancement – The provision of funds, goods or services onto another party so that they may accomplish their goals; commonly done as loans.


If you gave your brother $4,000 for his apartment deposit, you made an advancement to him. However you would not be able to get that money back until he moves out and sells his apartment, so it’s unlikely that you would be able to advance him any more money unless he signs a promissory note.


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