Sunday, July 19, 2009

Definitions

Originally posted at Jansen / No.634. Reposted with permission.

Huma is right – I remember reading blawgs during the summer before law school and not knowing what the heck certain terms meant. Here’s a quick rundown of things that confused me, most of which are from the “definitions” page of No.634.
  • ABA: American Bar Association.
  • Appellant: A party to a lawsuit who appeals a losing decision to a higher court in an effort to have it modified or reversed. The person who won is called the Appellee.
  • ATL: AboveTheLaw.com, which is the legal world’s equivalent to TMZ.
  • Bar Review (Activity): a semi-formal gathering of law students at local pubs. Bar review is held weekly, and is an almost exclusively 1L-event. A few months into the semester, two types of people will still attend bar review: those have a really strong set of law school friends and those who have no friends outside of law school. Individual sections will also have weekly bar gatherings, usually on Fridays.
  • Bar Review (Publication): a libelous publication at UMN law school. This is how UMN students find out where the next Bar Review (activity) will be held.
  • Biglaw: refers to large, private firms.
  • Blawg: A law-related blog. These come in a variety of forms that include the personal blawgs of law students, professor blawgs, attorney blawgs, fictional blawgs, judges, and scandal sheets.
  • Briefing: A semi tedious way that first year law students summarize cases. A case brief typically consists of the case title, procedural posture, holding, and a summary of facts. After first semester most students begin book briefing.
  • Civil Procedure: A typical first year course that deals with the procedural rules used for civil (as opposed to criminal) cases in Federal Courts.
  • Clinic: a law school program providing hands-on-legal experience to law school students and services to various clients. (read on Wiki)
  • Discussion: Lecture. Professors, especially those presenting speeches/talks, will often refer to their speech as a “discussion.”
  • FPP: Federal Procedure & Practice. A legal treatise on Civil Procedure. It’s brilliant, and available on Westlaw.
  • Gunner: The over-eager, inconsiderate person in every law school class that talks over her peers and monopolizes class time. The cliché is: “If after the first semester, you don’t know who the class gunner is, then it’s you.” See video.
  • Hornbook: A legal treatise. These are long enough to be unhelpful unless you are utterly lost in the class. Remember, you don’t get any extra points for mentioning things that the professor did not cover in class. The most useful legal treatise is the FPP, which is available on Westlaw.
  • Interest Meeting: Free Lunch. For the first semester at UMN law, student organizations hold “interest meetings” or sponsor talks almost every day during the lunch hour. This means free pizza. Towards the end of the semester when people are feeling obese and/or sick of pizza, the student organizations will try to entice you with Quiznos mini-subs and Holy Land food. Sometime during second semester you will realize that a hour in the middle of the school day is more valuable than the free food.
  • Justice: an appellate judge, the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the U. S. Supreme Court, a member of a Federal Court of Appeal, and judges of any of the various state appellate courts.
  • Law Review: Typically the most prestigious journal at any law school.
  • Law Revue: A theatrical/comedy troupe of law students (the most famous is at NYU). At UMN this is called T.O.R.T.
  • LexisNexis: an online research system (like Westlaw) that you get access to as a 1L at UMN. Some law schools do not give Westlaw/Lexis access to first year students. Lexis contains cases, treatises, a legal dictionary, statutes, and more. Do not buy supplemental books that contain statutes or restatements until you check if they are on Westlaw/Lexis first. Lexis offers reward points for research. It is very easy to rack up points and redeem them for Starbucks giftcards, & etc.
  • Lunch: priming for CivPro (Stella’s definition) Reading assignments a few hours before class will seem unthinkable until your second month in school.
  • Mandatory: Optional, unless you are specifically told what will happen if you don’t do the “mandatory” thing. A way that UMN tries to scare 1Ls into attending events is to “take attendance.” This stops working second semester when the 1Ls realize that nothing happened to the “rebels” from first semester.
  • Nutshell: A Spark-Note-like study aid for a given legal subject. These are more useful than hornbooks, but tend to oversimplify the law.
  • OCI: On campus interviews. This happens during the beginning of your second year, and is supposedly a “disaster” for those who are not in the top of the class.
  • Petitioning: The application process to get onto a legal journal. At UMN, it starts after spring semester finals.
  • Procedural posture: what happened to get the case to where it is. Who won below? Who appealed?
  • Restatements: Restatements of law are treatises on legal subjects, published by the American Law Institute. Many restatements are eventually codified into law, and your professors (especially in Contracts) will probably assign portions of a restatement.
  • SSG: Structured Study Group, a tutorial session at UMN led by an upper-year student.
  • Sincerely: boilerplate
  • Snark: Legalese for “bitchy
  • Talk: Lecture
  • Torts: A typical first year class. This is the blood, guts, and hilarity class. On Wikipedia: Tort law is a body of law that addresses, and provides remedies for, civil wrongs not arising out of contractual obligations. Typical tort cases include assault, battery, slip-and-fall, car accidents, etc.
  • T.O.R.T.: Theater of the Relatively Talentless. The UMN equivalent to law revue. See Website.
  • Westlaw: an online research system (like Lexis) that you get access to as a 1L at UMN. Some law schools do not give Westlaw/Lexis access to first year students. Westlaw contains cases, treatises, a legal dictionary, statutes, and more. Do not buy supplemental books that contain statutes or restatements until you check if they are on Westlaw/Lexis first.