Legalese

Legalese

TalkingI believe that at some time in the past, lawyers must have charged on a per word basis. It is the only explanation I have as to why attorneys use lengthy, old-fashioned and sometimes confusing jargon when talking and writing. If you can’t understand your lawyer, chances are a jury won’t either. Just because he sounds impressive, doesn’t mean he actually knows what he is talking about. Get him to explain in plain English what he is talking about and explain again if you didn’t understand.

What is even worse when a person who is not an attorney, even a very intelligent one, will try and sprinkle in words they have heard because they sound “legal.” Not only is it not needed, but if you don’t understand the words you are using, you may be saying something other than what you intend. The following list may help you decipher what an attorney might say and for attorneys to use more understandable language to get across information and assist their clients.

 

LEGALESE

PLAIN ENGLISH ALTERNATIVES

adequate number of

enough; sufficient

aforesaid

previous

all of the parties

all parties

and/or

… or… or both

anticipate

expect

as to whether (or not)

whether

at the time

when

by means of

by; through

contained in

in

contiguous to

next to; adjacent to

deems

considers

does not operate to

does not

during such time as

while

   

for the duration of

during

for the purpose of ___ing; with the object of ____ing

to ____

for the reason that

because

hereby; hereofhereunder; herein

by/of this ___; under this ___; in this ___

heretofore

previously

   

in case; in the event that

if

in lieu of

instead of

in many cases

many of; often

in order to

to

in the last analysis

finally

   

is (un)able to

can(not)

it is directed; it is the duty

must; shall

it is incumbent on X to

X must; X shall

literal(ly)

actual(ly); exact(ly)

loan (verb)

lend

monies

money

necessitate

require

necessity of

need to

occasion (as a verb)

cause

of a technical nature

technical

on the part of

by

possess

have; own

prior to

before

render (i.e., to give)

give

render (i.e., to cause to be)

make

said

the, that

secondly

second

subsequent to

after

such

the, that

suffer

allow

take into consideration

consider

thereby; thereofthereunder; therein

by that ___; of that ___under that ___; in that ____

to the effect that

that

transpire

happen

   

under the provisions of; pursuant to

under; in accordance with

until such time as

until

utilize

use, make use of

with respect to

about

-Bradley A. Coxe is a practicing attorney in Wilmington, NC who practices in Personal Injury, Car Accidents, Medical Malpractice, Contract and Real Estate disputes, and all forms of Civil Litigation.  Please contact him at (910) 772-1678.