Understanding the jargon of the law can be incredibly complicated and frustrating. While a lawyer might be able to decipher complex legal terms with ease, most of us are left feeling lost and confused. The purpose of this guide is to help you navigate the convoluted “legalese” so you can make sense of what’s going on in the courtroom.
First, let’s start with the basics. The two common forms of legal writing are opinions and statutes. Opinions are written by judges and are used to explain their reasoning behind a decision. Statutes, on the other hand, are written by legislators and are used to establish the basis for laws. Knowing the difference between the two and being able to identify which is which is a key part of understanding legal jargon.
There are a few terms you should be familiar with before venturing into the world of legalese. The first is “pleadings”. This is the term used to describe the legal documents filed by each party in a case. These documents present the facts, arguments, and legal theories that each side is relying on for their case.
Next, you should understand the differences between “substantive” and “procedural” law. Substantive law is the actual body of law that forms the basis of a case, while procedural law outlines the rules and guidelines that govern how a case should be handled.
The term “party” is also important to know. This is a term used to refer to each of the parties involved in a lawsuit. Additionally, you should be familiar with the different types of “claims” that can be brought in a case. These include tort claims, contract claims, and constitutional claims.
When discussing evidence, you should be aware of the terms “admissible” and “inadmissible”. This determines whether or not a piece of evidence can be used in a trial. Furthermore, you should understand the various types of evidence that are typically used in a trial, such as witness testimony, documents, and physical evidence.
Finally, you should familiarize yourself with the types of remedies that can be sought in a legal case. These include compensatory damages, which are meant to compensate a plaintiff for any losses they incurred, and punitive damages, which are meant to punish a defendant for engaging in wrongful conduct.
By taking the time to understand the basics of legal jargon, you can begin to make sense of the legal system. While it may seem overwhelming at first, the more you learn about the law and its terminology, the more confident you’ll feel when navigating the legal system.