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Law Library Orientation: Law School Terminology

This guide will introduce you to the FAMU Law Library and its services & policies.

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Legal Terminology

The language of law school is an alphabet soup of acronyms and slang.  Below are some helpful terms to get you started off on the right foot as well as some links to other places to go if you aren't sure of what something means.

1L, 2L, 3L, 1LE, 2LE, 3LE, 4LE: A law student's year in school (first year, second year, first year evening, etc.)

ABA: American Bar Association

ADR: Alternative Dispute Resolution

AG: Attorney General

Blackacre: The mythical tract of land used to discuss real property issues.  You may also see Whiteacre, Greenacre, Yellowacre, etc.

Blackletter law: Legal principles that are old, fundamental, and settled

Black's: Black's Law Dictionary, a good place to look up the meaning of legal terms you hear but don't know what they mean

Bluebook: A citation manual and style guide heavily used in the legal profession

Brief: A writing setting out the legal arguments of a party

CALI: Computer Assisted Legal Instruction - CALI lessons are free study aids on various law school subjects, see a Reference Librarian for more information

Casebook: The main text for your courses.  Casebooks contain extracts of cases on a particular subject to assist you in learning the law.

Closed Memo:  A writing assignment where the case law, statutes, and other resources needed to complete the memo are given to you.

Course Outline: A condensed and organized version of your class notes you will use to study for your final exam.  Start making it on day one of your classes.

CSO: Career Services Office

DA: District Attorney

Hornbook: A book explaining the basics of a given subject.

ILL: Interlibrary Loan

LexisNexis and Westlaw: Commercial vendors of online legal databases.  Be sure you complete your registration for both during orientation so you can register for TWEN and WebCourses for your various classes.

MBE: "Multistate Bar Exam" A 200 question exam given in two 3 hour sessions.  The MBE is a standard part of the bar exam for nearly all states (except for Louisiana and Washington).

MPRE: "Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam" This exam tests your knowledge of professional responsibility and legal ethics and is required in many states.

Nutshell: A popular series of study aids by Thomson Reuters (West).

PA: Prosecuting Attorney

Pro bono: Uncompensated legal services generally done for the greater good of society

Procedural law:  The rules prescribing steps for having a right or duty judicially enforced.

Pro se: Representing oneself without the assistance of a lawyer

SBA: Student Bar Association

Shepardize/KeyCite: To determine the subsequent history of a case by using a printed or computerized citator.  Researchers shepardize or keycite cases to make sure the law they are citing to is still good law.

Substantive law: The part of the law creating, defining, and regulating the rights, duties, and powers of parties

Treatise: A detailed book about a specific legal topic.  Treatises are secondary legal research resources that can lead you to cases, statutes, and other research materials on a specific topic.

TWEN or WebCourses: TWEN and WebCourses are electronic extensions of the classroom.  On these pages, professors will post syllabi, PowerPoint presentations, class announcements, and other valuable class information.

UCC: Uniform Commercial Code

Thank you to Barb Kallusky, Head of Public Services at Hamline University School of Law for allowing modification of her list of law school terminology for this LibGuide and to Patricia Dickerson at NCCU Law Library for allowing FAMU to reproduce the list in its entirety for this LibGuide.