Global August 10, 2021 Last updated October 6th, 2022 1,249 Reads share

10 Legal Terms Every Lawyer Needs to Know

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Lawyers talk in a different language. Therefore, it’s beyond difficult to decode a legal statement unless you are a lawyer. On the other hand, you must learn the legal vocabulary as soon as you enter the law stream. Otherwise, there is no room for you to thrive. Law terms are complicated and hard to understand for common people. Therefore, every law school around the world includes legal terminologies in the initial parts of their syllabus.

However, in the professional field, lawyers need to thoroughly read, write, and understand important legal terms for understanding legal concepts and undergo a proceeding. Here is a list of 10 common law terms that every lawyer needs to know.

What Is Legal Terminology?

Legal terminology refers to a set of technical words and phrases that legal regulations and federal bodies use to make a statement. Legal terms convey lawful doctrines in an ordinance, civil lawsuits, business or real estate contracts, and in a legal precedent. Governing bodies, judiciary, and authority of the nation or state use a host of legal terms in their written statements.

Legal vocabulary is far from simple. These terminologies are often called “terms of art” and generally come from various origins. However, despite different purposes these law terms classify into three distinct categories.

Foreign legal terminology

  • Amicus Curiae
  • Ad hoc
  • Arguendo
  • Caveat Emptor

Specialized legal terminology

  • Doctrine
  • Statute
  • Attorney
  • Annulment

Archaic legal terminology

  • Banco
  • Coverture
  • Droits
  • Filacer

Where Do Lawyers Find Basic Legal Terms?


A lawyer must turn to authentic sources when learning legal jargon. There are a host of law books that teach legal vocabulary. A lawyer, first year law student, or those undertaking LSAT prep in the process of gearing up for a law school application, must turn to authentic sources when learning legal jargon. There are a host of law books that teach legal vocabulary. However, for understanding basic legal terms, lawyers need to look at the following sources.

Law Encyclopedia

This is an old school method of learning common legal terms and phrases. Lawyers form law schools, and professionals can hit the libraries to fetch the law encyclopedias. These books contain thorough lists of legal terminology.

Online Legal Glossary

In the age of digital advancement, there are lots of law-related glossaries available online. Besides, there are specific online dictionaries that archive all the law terms.

Authentic Law Websites

There are official websites of globally acclaimed law schools and institutions. Such authentic law websites have a plethora of common law terminologies. Lawrina is one such internationally acclaimed website to find law information online.

10 Common Legal Terms Every Lawyer Needs to Know

The following are law-related terminologies and common legal phrases that every lawyer needs to know.

1.     Defendant

The defendant is a common legal term that most lawyers use during their court sessions. The term defines an individual or a group held accused of committing something illegal. For example, John was accused of stealing $10,000 from his office. So, until John is proven guilty, he is only charged with criminal charges. In some cases, an individual held responsible for civil and criminal charges is also called a defendant according to law terms.

2.     Plaintiff

According to legal concepts, the plaintiff is an individual who files a lawsuit against another person for criminal or civil charges. Most lawyers include this term in their legal vocabulary to define the lawsuit petitioner during the court sessions. For example, John accused Mary of stealing $10,000. For a valid lawsuit, you need a complaint and warrant filed against the accused person in the court.

3.     CFR

Cost and Freight (CFR) is a legal terminology that lawyers use for contracts in foreign trades. Basically, in any agreement defining the sale as CFR, the seller needs to arrange a product’s carriage to deliver it. While delivering the products via sea to the destination port, the seller needs to provide the required documentation to the buyer. With CFR, the seller is not held responsible for any damage or loss during the transit.

4.     Abate

According to law terms, abatement refers to a process when the legal proceedings get suspended, closed, or interrupted before the final decision. The situation occurs when the defendant pleads in the subject matter. Thus, it prevents the plaintiff from proceeding forward with the lawsuit.

5.     Jurisdiction


Jurisdiction refers to an authority that has the power to take decisions in legal cases. A classic example is a court that can control and make legal decisions on an individual or a group accused of criminal charges. With the jurisdiction process, the court hears the arguments of the defendant and plaintiff and validates their arguments with witnesses.

6.     Federal

Federal is the legal term that refers to the governing authority. The lawmakers and policy makers of a nation with the highest judicial powers are federals. The federal structure of a country decides the national regulations and foreign policies.

7.     Affidavit

An affidavit is a statement written under the oath in the presence of an authorized magistrate or an individual that the court appoints. In court proceedings, these statements represent facts in favor of the defendant or plaintiff. People use affidavits to represent evidence or proof to turn the judgment in their favor.

8.     ADR

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a common legal terminology that lawyers incorporate in their vocabulary. The term defines different methods used for resolving disputes, thus, avoiding the usage of litigation. ADR has various forms, and each one has multiple implications for an individual, like his/her relationships with others, company disputes, and more.

9.     Litigation

According to the common law, litigation refers to the process of court proceedings. Here individuals are defending and enforcing the case using their legal rights in court. In some cases, both parties tend to settle their disputes by figuring out an agreement. But, some parties accept the litigation process for more favorable judgments.

10.Obiter Dictum

The Latin term for “said in passing”, Obiter Dictum is one of the many common legal phrases that lawyers use in the courts. The phrase refers to a judge’s observation that passes as a hypothesis and might not have an impact on the verdict. Coming from the English common law, Obiter Dictum often comes as an opinion or a statement that has no correspondence with the judiciary.


These are the 10 most common legal terms that the lawyers need to know before hitting the courtroom. These terminologies will help them decode a legal statement and conduct legal proceedings.

Sviatoslav Mykytyn

Sviatoslav Mykytyn

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