Acquiring a Basic Legal Repertoire

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All legal analysis requires a basic legal repertoire. One of the biggest barriers to learning to read cases effectively is not understanding the language. The program that we use during orientation will begin the process of helping you to learn all the words below. However, you might find your learning expedited if you look up as many of the following words as you can find.  

Use a legal dictionary only. I suggest that you purchase Black's Law Dictionary for home use and a smaller pocket law dictionary to carry around with you at law school. Don't use a regular dictionary unless the word cannot be found in a law dictionary. 

Ideally, buy 3 x 5 cards, put the word on one side and the definition on the other side. Don't worry about the ones you might not be able to find in the dictionary but pay attention to different legal readings and when you find the definition complete the card. As you are reading (cases etc), add cards for any new words.  

The words are divide among the following categories: 


Rights, Remedies , Duties and Liabilities 
  • breach of duty
  • common law rights
  • common law rules
  • constitutional rights
  • duty
  • interference with a right
  • law
  • liability
  • moral rights
  • moral rules
  • natural law
  • remedy
  • right
  • rule of Law
  • statutes
  • statutory rights


Functions of Judge and Jury 
  • dispute
  • judge
  • jury
  • material facts
  • question of how the rule of law      apply to the facts
  • question of fact
  • question of law
  • rule



 A Case in Court 
  • case
  • civil action
  • court
  • criminal action
  • decision
  • defendant
  • judgment
  • judicial opinion
  • judicial proceeding
  • parties
  • plaintiff
  • trial
  • verdict


The Concept "Cause of Action" 
  • actions at law
  • actions in equity
  • cause of action
  • common law actions
  • elements of a cause of action
  • suits
  • suits in equity


The Use of Tests 
  • issue
  • standard
  • tests


  • answer
  • caption
  • complaint
  • default
  • defense
  • demurrer
  • demurrer to an answer
  • motion for a new trial
  • motion for a directed verdict
  • motion for summary judgment
  • motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict
  • motion to dismiss
  • motion to produce
  • motion to strike
  • motion to suppress
  • motion for a protective order
  • motion to compel
  • motion to produce
  • motion to strike allegations
  • overrules
  • pleading
  • reply
  • summons
  • sustains


  • admission of evidence
  • burden of proof
  • cross examination
  • defense
  • deposition
  • direct examination
  • evidence
  • final argument
  • instructions
  • interrogatories
  • introduction of evidence
  • pleading questions
  • motion for a new trial
  • motion for directed verdict
  • motion to make more specific
  • opening statements
  • preliminary instructions
  • prima facie case
  • testimony
  • trial
  • verdict judgment
  • voir dire examination


  • affirm a judgement
  • appeal
  • appellant
  • appellate court
  • appellee
  • brief on appeal
  • dictum
  • error
  • extend a judgment
  • follow a case
  • holding
  • limit a judgement
  • modify a judgement
  • overrules a judgement
  • precedent
  • record
  • refuse to extend a case
  • rely on a case
  • reports
  • reverse a judgement
  • reversible error
  • stare decisis
  • sustain a judgement
  • synthesis of cases

  • counter-argument
  • per curiam
  • assumpsit
  • arguendo
  • covenant
  • distinguish
  • fact pattern



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