Daniel & Son Attorneys at Law

Law Firm Vocabulary Guide

Words You Should Know

Plaintiff:


(noun) a person who brings suit in a court (opposed to defendant )


Ex: In some areas, the law requires only one plaintiff be identified at the time of filing a class action lawsuit, he said.


Defendant:


(noun) a person, company, etc., against whom a claim or charge is brought in a court


Ex: The most contentious part of the bill is the proposal to allow juries to be told of a defendant 's criminal record.



Complaint:

(noun) the first document filed with the court by a person or entity claiming legal rights against another.

Ex: A complaint filing must be accompanied by a filing fee payable to the court clerk, unless a waiver based on poverty is obtained.


Summons:

(noun) a document issued by the court at the time a lawsuit is filed

Ex: He has been summonsed to appear in court next month.


Pleadings:

(noun) a document telling the defendant of the suit against him/her and orders to appear in court on a certain day and time.

Ex: The pleading states that you must appear in court on January 6th, 12:00 PM.


Pretrial conference:

(noun) the judge may have both parties in a meeting to help clarify differences and prepare for the trial.

Ex: Before they had the actual trial, the judge issued a pretrial conference to clear things up.


Mediation:

(noun) the attempt to settle a legal dispute through active participation of a third party (mediator) who works to find points of agreement and make those in conflict agree on a fair result.

Ex: The Act would promote mediation, which is designed to reduce acrimony between the parties.


Arbitration:

(noun) a mini-trial held in an attempt to avoid a court trial and conducted by a person or a panel of people who are not judges.

Ex: The members decided to invite management to binding arbitration in a final attempt to resolve the dispute.


Trial:

(noun) the examination of facts and law presided over by a judge

Ex: They all reveal evidence that was not admissible in the trial, which must have been fed to them by the police.


Preponderance of Evidence:

(noun) the greater weight of the evidence required in a civil lawsuit for the trier of fact to decide in favor of one side or the other.

Ex: At the end of civil case A v. B, 51% of the evidence favors A. Thus, A has a preponderance of the evidence, A has met their burden of proof, and A will win the case.


Verdict:

(noun) the decision of a jury after a trial, which must be accepted by the trial judge to be final

Ex: The verdict of the jury stated 20 hours of community service and 4 jury sessions.


Appeal:

(verb) to ask a higher court to reverse the decision of a trial court after final judgment or other legal ruling.

Ex: The defendant appealed for another hearing because he felt the verdict was flawed.