August 5, 2016

Law School Vocab

here's a reference guide of law school vocab |

As you're getting ready for orientation and reading your cases, you might come across some words that you're not familiar with. Don't feel like you're unprepared or behind if your legal vocabulary isn't as big as another classmates! Now is the time for you to get used to all these words that in a few months will be second nature to you. 

I decided to give you a little reference guide just in case, but don't feel embarrassed to comment or email me if a word isn't on here that you don't know because I want this to be as encompassing as possible. The words that I'm starting off with are from a list we were given at my orientation to become familiar with.


a judge confirms a ruling after it's been appealed


a defendant's first pleading that addresses the merits of the case


having a decision reconsidered by either a Court of Appeals (first), State Supreme Court (second), US Supreme Court (last)


the party who appeals a lower court's decision 


the party who responds to the appeal

Black letter law

the straightforward and basic rule
ex. going 80 in a 75 is illegal 


a written statement setting out the legal contentions of a party in litigation 

Related: How to Write an Appellate Brief

Case Brief 

a short summary of the different components of the case

Related: How to Make a Case Brief


a thing that you own


law school vocab |


the initial pleading that starts a civil action 


a judge agrees with the outcome of the case, but not how the majority came to that conclusion

∆ (delta)

a common shorthand for defendant 
option + J on a Mac
alt + 8710 on a PC


a person sued in a civil proceeding OR
a person accused in a criminal proceeding 

Dicta/Dictum (plural)

someone's opinion on the case
not from the deciding judge, but still important because of the writer's authority


a judge disagrees with the outcome of the case (and sometimes how the majority came to that conclusion, too)


to note a significant difference between two cases
usually is used to minimize the other case's precedential effect


a court's determination of a matter of law


a court's final determination of the rights and obligations of the parties in a case


a common shorthand abbreviation for contract 

Related: Computer Shortcuts and Abbreviations for Common Law School Words


a written or oral application requisition a court to make a specified ruling or order


a summary of everything you've learned over the semester that you use as a study guide for finals

Related: How to Make an Outline


a court's written statement explaining its decision in a given case

π (pi)

a common shorthand abbreviation for plaintiff 
option + p on a Mac
alt + 227 on a PC


a formal written request presented to a court


the party who brings a civil suit


a request to the court at the end of a pleading 


how courts have ruled in the past
lower courts must follow precedent of higher courts


the manner for carrying on a civil lawsuit or criminal prosecution 


to send an appealed case back to the last court to fix an issue


to overturn a lower court's decision 


option + 6 on a Mac
alt + 0167 on a PC

Stare decisis

a court in the same jurisdiction must follower earlier judicial decisions when the same points arise again in litigation


the case name in a citation 

Socratic Method

teaching method where a professor cold calls a student and asks them question after question 

Related: What Class is Like

Summary Judgement

stops the case mid-trial and gives a judgment because it has been found that there is no genuine issue of material fact to proceed on 


the person with -or suffix is the giver
the person with -ee suffix is the reciver

debtor - the one who gives the loan
debtee - the one who receives the loan


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