What is POFP?

Why do lawyers refer to long documents as briefs and
18-year olds as infants? Why do they use so much Latin when so few of their
clients are Ancient Romans? Is it a conspiracy?

Party of the First Part has the answers! Check out the Website for the
Legalese Hall of Shame; a glossary of legal words linked to Adam Freedman's
columns; tips on writing legal documents in plain English; and more!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Faux amis from the Volokh Conspiracy

Lest anyone doubt the seductive power of legal language, a recent post on the Volokh Conspiracy on "the legal historian's legal false friends" has attracted 100 comments in a matter of days. By "false friends," Volokh is referring to words that appear to be everyday English words with settled meanings, but which have very different legal meanings (or at least, which historically had different legal meanings). Think about terms such as "mayhem," which people use as a synonym for disorder; but it is a distinct common law criminal offense, meaning to injure or disfigure another person.