What Is a Legal Lexicon? Learn it to Avoid Confusion!

I’ve been in the field of practicing law for almost fifteen years now, and I’m still learning. In fact, it’s one of the most interesting things I’ve done, and I look forward to encountering new things along the way. That’s what lawyers do, after all; they meet new people, and they sometimes have to learn about new words and phrases. If you‘re an attorney, that can be a very important part of your professional growth. I am always intrigued by how lawyers define and explain their legal work. It’s not always easy to explain when you’re talking to someone who doesn’t really understand what you’re talking about.

When I first began studying what is legal jargon, I was surprised to find that while the majority of legal phrases are familiar, many legal professionals don’t seem to know them. Lawyers often use terms like “attorney-client privilege” or “confidential communications.” Those phrases aren’t familiar to me, but I suppose it’s because I don’t work in the legal field. There are times when I do need to study law in preparation for a case and having a good understanding of legal terminology helps make that possible.

As I continued to study, I came across some things that made me ask the question, “What is the legal jargon?” One legal term that caught my attention was “advice.” In order for a lawyer to give legal advice, he must first take the time to really understand the issue and the potential impact on the client. Some lawyers simply take the opinion of the client as far as it goes, leaving no room for thought or discretion. Other lawyers, when given the opportunity, will carefully analyze the facts and circumstances surrounding the legal issue to provide sound legal advice.

Another phrase that bugged me was “citation.” In my state, a citation is an order from a court requiring an individual to appear in court on a particular date and for a specific reason. The phrase probably sounds more ridiculous to an average person than it does to a legal professional, but it’s a necessary part of our justice system. If you can’t make your court date, you probably can’t do whatever you’re required to do.

“Conflict” is another legal terminology that bewilders people. In legal terminology, a “conflict” is a word that refers to two things. First, there’s the conflict between two parties or between two lawyers. On the other hand, “conflict” can also refer to any situation where there is at least one party that is lagging behind another party in the process of taking a certain course of action.

A third phrase that confused me is “contingency,” which, as the name suggests, refers to contingency, or the possibility that a situation may occur in which the plaintiff must suffer some kind of financial harm. I find it strange that there exists a phrase that describes a circumstance when none actually has yet occurred. So, what is the legal jargon? That’s what you’ll have to find out yourself!

There are many instances where you need to use legal terminology. I personally feel that you need to know what a cease and desist order means if you’re involved in a lawsuit that involves personal injury. Other phrases that I have come across include libel, slander, and fraud, and sometimes even trade libel, the act of damaging a good business reputation by using it in the context of that business.

The point is, you need to know what is legal jargon in order to properly research a situation, or even use a legal phrase in a legal proceeding. One place that you might look up legal terminology is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). They maintain a large index that contains all the definitions, synonyms, and general terms that you will need to know. This is really only a place to begin looking up legal terminology, but it is an excellent starting point in learning what is the legal jargon!

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