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Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Legal Dictionary (guest post)
Posted 11:20 AM by Luke
[ed. note: below is a post written by my friend who is a 3L at Ohio St. law... this is his humorous take on the real meanings of terms we law students and lawyers encounter on a regular basis]

post by Daniel Ornelas

My friend Matt, a fellow 3L at Moritz Law, has a girlfriend who is entering her first year of law school here at Ohio State. Of course, Matt and I are giving her some pointers on how to "survive" what may well be one of the toughest and most trying academic exeperiences around.

A common saying amongst legal scholars is that going to law school is akin to "learning a foreign language." I happen to think this a fairly accurate description of the process of becoming a lawyer, excluding, of course, the inevitable general bitterness and alcoholism that also ingrain themselves during this time.So with an effort to illuminate the arcane language of law school, both for Julie and for all of you, I present an English-Legalese translator for your enlightenment.

Mandatory meeting

English: a meeting at which attendance is required
Legalese: a meeting where absolutely nothing of any practical use will be explained


English: a shadow
Legalese: something only a liberal can see


English: adj. short in duration or length
Legalese: n. a 25-30 page paper

On-call day

English: a period of time during which one may be asked to do something
Legalese: the last day of reading for that particular course


English: the record of an adjudication between two or more parties in a court of law
Legalese: the record of some weird or incorrect application of law that will not appear on the exam (usage exeception: in constitutional law, the record of some weird or incorrect application of law that will appear on the exam)

Constitutional law

English: a class which explores the nature of the structure, interpretation and jurisprudence of the Constitution of the United States

Legalese: a class about the Commerce Clause

14th Amendment

English: provision of the Constitution guaranteeing citizens, among other things, the right to due process of law
Legalese: a magic wand waved by law professors to create rights out of thin air


English: a publication of scholarly works
Legalese: an 11th-century Medieval torture device that law students actively compete to join


English: contingent upon the circumstances; also, an adult diaper brand-name
Legalese: the correct answer to every question


English: a place to which one goes to get hammered and screwed
Legalese: a place to which one goes to get hammered and screwed


English: a follower of the conservative political party
Legalese: (archaic) a developmentally-disabled individual who must have gotten a freakishly high LSAT score to get into law school


English: an academic meeting between professors and students
Legalese: a game of "hide-n-seek" between professors and students

Class participation

English: involvement of students engaging the professor as he lectures
Legalese: Yahoo! games and AIM

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