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Legalese From A to Z: 5 Legal Terms Beginning With 'L'

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By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on October 05, 2014 10:47 AM

Legalese From A to Z - FindLaw

There are a quite a few common legal terms that begin with the letter "L": law, lawyer, lawsuit, to name a few obvious ones.

One of the most important but least understood legal "L"-words, however, is legalese, the unique and sometimes difficult-to-decipher language used by lawyers, judges, and others who work in the legal industry.

With our continuing series Legalese From A to Z, we run down some of the more interesting and useful bits of legalese, one letter per week. This week, we take a closer look at some (more) legal terms that start with the letter "L":

  • Laches. Laches describes an unreasonable delay in the assertion of a legal right or privilege. It is used by the defendant (the person being sued) as a defense to a lawsuit when the plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit) unreasonably delayed bringing the suit, and that delay had a negative effect on the defendant's ability to defend himself.
  • Libel per se. You may recognize libel as being the written form of defamation (slander being spoken defamation). Libel per se is a specific type of libel in which a statement's defamatory and damaging nature are legally presumed. Statements that are generally considered libel per se include: indicating a person was involved in criminal activity, indicating a person has a loathsome disease, indicating a person was unchaste or engaged in sexual misconduct, or indicating a person's professional ability or conduct was below the proper standard of his trade or profession.
  • Life tenant. As an alternative to granting a person absolute ownership of property, a person may instead be provided with a life estate, which gives that person, known as the life tenant, the right to use and possess that property for the duration of her life. Upon the life tenant's death, the property passes to another recipient designated by the original grantor of the life estate or reverts back to the grantor himself.
  • Living will. A living will is a legal document setting forth a person's wishes for medical care in the event that she is incapacitated. A living will usually includes instructions for whether a person wishes to be provided life-sustaining medical treatment in the event that she is brain dead or in a persistent vegetative state.

If you need help with defining a legal word or phrase, check out FindLaw's Legal Dictionary for free access to more than 8,000 definitions of legal terms. In next week's Legalese From A to Z, we'll check out five more legal terms you may not know, beginning with the letter "M."

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