Legal Meaning Is Not Everyday Meaning
Oral / verbal
Traditionally, oral means spoken (an oral examination) and verbal means related to words (verbal reasoning). But ‘verbal agreement’ is the idiomatic term for one that is spoken, not written. There is no ambiguity here since an agreement necessarily involves words. Another idiom is ‘non-verbal communication’, the use of gesture and body language instead of words; effectively this means unspoken since it is only used of people in face to face contact, who can observe one another’s physical behavior.
In general English: Accessible to the public; land owned directly by the government or local authorities.
In legal English: legal availability for public use, free of charge, of materials, processes, devices, skills, and plans that are not protected by copyright or patent, including those on which copyright or patent has lapsed; subject to appropriation by anyone.
Everyday "Legal" Jargon
Fundamental Lawyering Skills
Skill § 1: In order to develop and evaluate strategies for solving a problem or accomplishing an objective, a lawyer should be familiar with the skills and concepts involved in:
1 identifying and diagnosing the problem;
2 generating alternative solutions and strategies;
3 developing a plan of action;
4 implementing the plan;
5 keeping the planning process open to new information and new ideas.
Skill § 2: In order to analyze and apply legal rules and principles, a lawyer should be familiar with the skills and concepts involved in:
1 identifying and formulating legal issues;
2 formulating relevant legal theories;
3 elaborating legal theory;
4 evaluating legal theory;
5 criticizing and synthesizing legal argumentation.
Skill § 3: In order to identify legal issues and to research them thoroughly and efficiently, a lawyer should have:
1 knowledge of the nature of legal rules and institutions;
2 knowledge of and ability to use the most fundamental tools of legal research;
3 understanding of the process of devising and implementing a coherent and effective research design.
Skill § 4: In order to plan, direct, and (where applicable) participate in factual investigation, a lawyer should be familiar with the skills and concepts involved in:
1 determining the need for factual investigation;
2 planning a factual investigation;
3 implementing the investigative strategy;
4 memorializing and organizing information in an accessible form;
5 deciding whether to conclude the process of fact-gathering;
6 evaluating the information that has been gathered.
Skill § 5: In order to communicate effectively, whether orally or in writing, a lawyer should be familiar with the skills and concepts involved in:
1 assessing the perspective of the recipient of the communication;
2 using effective methods of communication.
Skill § 6: In order to counsel clients about decisions or courses of action, a lawyer should be familiar with the skills and concepts involved in:
1 establishing a counseling relationship that respects the nature and bounds of a lawyer's role;
2 gathering information relevant to the decision to be made;
3 analyzing the decision to be made;
4 counseling the client about the decision to be made;
5 ascertaining and implementing the client's decision.
Skill § 7: In order to negotiate in either a dispute-resolution or transactional context, a lawyer should be familiar with the skills and concepts involved in:
1 preparing for negotiation;
2 conducting a negotiation session;
3 counseling the client about the terms obtained from the other side in the negotiation and implementing the client's decision.
Skill § 8: In order to employ-or to advise a client about-the options of litigation and alternative dispute resolution, a lawyer should understand the potential functions and consequences of these processes and should have a working knowledge of the fundamentals of:
1 litigation at the trial-court level;
2 litigation at the appellate level;
3 advocacy in administrative and executive forums;
4 proceedings in other dispute-resolution forums.
Skill § 9: In order to practice effectively, a lawyer should be familiar with the skills and concepts required for efficient management, including:
1 formulating goals and principles for effective practice management;
2 developing systems and procedures to ensure that time, effort, and resources are allocated efficiently;
3 developing systems and procedures to ensure that work is performed and completed at the appropriate time;
4 developing systems and procedures for effectively working with other people;
5 developing systems and procedures for efficiently administering a law office.
Skill § 10: In order to represent a client consistently with applicable ethical standards, a lawyer should be familiar with:
1 the nature and sources of ethical standards;
2 the means by which ethical standards are enforced;
3 the processes for recognizing and resolving ethical dilemmas.
Selected excerpt from the MacCrate Report, reprinted from the American Bar Association's website.
As If Your Life Depended On It… or How to get to Carnegie Hall? - Practice, practice
Famous trials in the world:
Trial of Socrates (399 B.C.)
Trial of Jesus (30 A. D.)
Trial of Joan of Arc (1431)
Trial of Martin Luther (1521)
Trial of Sir Thomas More (1535)
Trial of Galileo (1633)
Trial of Charles I (1649)
The Trials Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette (1792-93)
The Trials of Alfred Dreyfus (1894 and 1899)
Trial of Gandhi (1922)
The ("Beer Hall Putsch") Trial of Adolf Hitler (1924)
Trial of Adolf Eichmann (1961)
Trial of Nelson Mandela (1963-64)
The "politically correct" grammarian
Infamous / Notorious
"Infamous” means famous in a bad way. It is related to the word "infamy." Humorists have for a couple of centuries jokingly used the word in a positive sense, but the effectiveness of the joke depends on the listener knowing that this is a misuse of the term. Because this is a very old joke indeed you should stick to using "infamous" only of people like Hitler and Billy the Kid.
"Notorious" means the same thing as "infamous" and should also only be used in a negative sense.
English is full of repetitive phrases like pump and ceremony, neat and tidy, whys and wherefores. The law, aiming to be comprehensive, provides example like aid and abet, by let and hindrance, the rest, residue and remainder. These phrases trip off the tongue, but you should avoid them in ordinary writing.
Mute Point / Moot Point
"Moot" is a very old word related to "meeting," specifically a meeting where serious matters are discussed. Oddly enough, a moot point can be a point worth discussing at a meeting (or in court)—an unresolved question—or it can be the opposite: a point already settled and not worth discussing further. At any rate, "mute point" is simply wrong, as is the less common “mood point."
A ‘moot case’ is a case seeking to determine an abstract question which does not rest upon existing facts or rights, or which seeks a judgment in an alleged controversy when in reality there is none.
A ‘moot court’ is a fictitious court set up to argue a moot case; usually found in law schools as an instrument of learning oral advocacy skills.