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Common Legal Terms for Paralegal Staff

Submitted by Meditec on Fri, 09/08/2017 - 13:01
Common Legal Terms for Paralegal Staff

To people who are not acquainted with the legal profession, understanding legal terminology may be like trying to learn a foreign language. As a Legal Transcriptionist, you need to speak this language fluently. While there are thousands of terms that you will encounter, there are some basics that will help you become comfortable with legalese a little faster. Based upon the specific field in which you are employed, some of the following terms may be more relevant to you than others. Basic Legal Terms and Phrases

  • Ad litem means “for the case.” This phrase is typically used when a guardian is appointed to act on behalf of a child or a person otherwise incompetent to act on his or her own behalf.
  • Affirmative defense is a defense which, if it can be proven by a defendant, defeats or mitigates any consequence to the defendant for an unlawful act.
  • Appellant is a party who brings an appeal of a decision to a higher court or tribunal. Appellee is the party who must respond to an appeal.
  • Attractive nuisance is a dangerous condition on a property that may be attractive enough to children or others as to entice them to come onto a property.
  • Burden of proof is the responsibility of a party to establish the facts of a case.
  • Certiorari is an order by which a higher court reviews the decision of a lower court.
  • Civil actions are those actions brought to protect the civil rights of a person. Civil actions are brought on behalf of a party against the offending party.
  • Class actions are brought on behalf of a class of persons rather than on behalf of a specific person or persons.
  • Common law is a law that is established by prior court decisions rather than by a statute. De facto is a Latin term meaning “in fact.”
  • Due care is the standard of care that an ordinarily prudent person in a situation would be expected to exercise.
  • En banc means that a case has been heard by the entire panel of judges in that particular court.
  • Estoppel is a legal doctrine that prevents someone from denying a fact based upon some previous action or statement by that person or because a previous judicial decision has already established that fact.
  • In absentia is a Latin phrase meaning “in the absence of.”
  • Inter alia means “among other things.”
  • Ipso facto is a Latin phrase meaning “by that very fact or act.”
  • Malfeasance is an action that is legally wrong.
  • Misfeasance means that an action itself was not illegal but it was carried out in an unlawful manner.
  • Negligence per se is negligence that does not have to be proven by a plaintiff. It is an action that is automatically considered negligent because it violates a law or statute.
  • Nolo contendere is a plea in a criminal action by which a person accepts a guilty conviction but does not admit that he is guilty of the crime.
  • Prima facie is another Latin phrase meaning “on its face.” A prima facie case establishes evidence sufficient to prove the case without additional investigation unless the other party can rebut the evidence established.
  • Probable cause is most commonly used in criminal actions and means the reasonable and likely cause.
  • Proximate cause means that a certain event was the actual cause of the injuries and damages sustained by the other party.
  • Punitive damages are damages awarded in addition to damages which compensate a person for losses. Punitive damages are designed to punish the losing party for especially egregious, intentional actions.
  • Respondent superior is the doctrine of law that states that an employer is responsible for the actions of an employee as long as the employee was acting in the course and scope of his employment.
  • Res ipsa liquitor is a Latin phrase meaning “the thing speaks for itself.”
  • Res judicata means that something has already been adjudicated and therefore cannot be litigated again.

Thousands of legal terms are used by legal professionals on a daily basis. As an aspiring legal transcriptionists or paralegal, you can find many types of paralegal training online which will assist you in preparing for a career in the legal field.