Law School Dictionary

Welcome to the Law School Dictionary. This Dictionary is compiled by Law School Coach, and is intended to define basic terms you will encounter in law school. This is not intended to be a legal dictionary. Instead, you will find the meaning for the most common words that you will encounter during your 1L year of law school.

P - Z

Parol Oral as opposed to written.
Party 1) A person or group involved in a legal proceeding as a Litigant. 2) A participant.
Per Curiam "By the Court;" denotes that the Opinion is authored by the whole court instead of a single justice.
Personal Property Movable goods or Chattels.
Petitioner Party who institutes an Equity proceeding or who appeals from a Judgment.  Same thing as Plaintiff or Appellant.
Plaintiff A person who brings a Civil action in a court of law.
Plea Old word for Pleading.
Pleading Formal written claims of parties to a lawsuit.
Precedent An earlier court decision that is based on facts very similar to the situation presently before the court and that because of Stare Decisis is to be considered by the court to be the governing rule to resolve the current dispute.
Prima Facie Case Establishing the specified elements of a Cause of Action so that the law is satisfied that there is sufficient merit to the claim to require the opponent to make some effort to defeat it.  From the Latin phrase "on it's face."
Proximate Cause An event that is the ultimate cause of an injury.
Public Policy What the court believes is the state or federal government's official attitude towards a certain behavior.
Punitive Punishment, penalty.
Quantum Meruit Paying a reasonable estimation of the value of what was received.  From the Latin phrase "as much as deserved."
Quid pro Quo From the Latin phrase "something for something."
Real Property Land.
Reasonable Person A hypothetical everyman, a person with human faculties and failures, of average intelligence and reason.
Record The contents of a court's case file including all Evidence admitted in a case.
Reporter An official publication that includes copies of judicial opinions.  Each state and federal court has an official reporter. 
Rescission 1) The act of rescinding. 2) The cancellation of a Contract and the return of the Parties to the positions they would have had if the contract had not been made.
Res Ipsa Loquitur A doctrine which infers Negligence by a person by the mere facts that an instrumentality causing harm was in the person's sole control and the injury wouldn't normally occur in the absence of negligence.  From the Latin phrase "the thing speaks for itself."
Respondeat Superior Doctrine whereby the superiors are responsible for the acts of an employee.  From the Latin phrase "let the master answer."
Sin Qua Non An absolute requirement or necessity.  From the Latin phrase "without which it could not be."
Stare Decisis To follow decided cases.  From the Latin phrase "to stand by a decision."
Statute A law written and approved by the federal or state legislature and approved by the executive branch of that government.
Statute of Limiations A law which sets the maximum amount of time that a person can wait before filing a lawsuit.  A time limit for a Cause of Action.
Subpoena An Order requiring someone to appear to give sworn testimony regarding a particular case.
Supra A reference indicating that an item was previously cited or discussed.
Testate Dying with a Will.
Testimony Evidence given by a witness who is competent and under oath.
Third Party Beneficiary Person for whose benefit a Contract is made but who is not a Party to the agreement.
Tort An injury to a person or to property which gives rise to a Civil, Cause of Action for money  damages.
Tort Feasor Person committing a Tort.
Unilateral One-sided, by one Party or for the benefit of one party only.
Uniform Law Similar codes of law adopted by multiple states.
Verdict Formal decision made by a Jury.
Waiver Intentionally giving up a legal right.
Within the Four Corners Contained either expressly or by implication within the text of a document.
With Prejudice An Action dismissed with prejudice bars the re-filing of the same Cause of Action on a later date.
Writ A court Order requiring someone to do something or giving authority to have it done.

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