Appendix A

Glossary of Important Legal Terms: A Mini Legal Dictionary

As you read through this book, you probably see some terms that look like stirred-up alphabet soup. That’s because the language of the law in the United States incorporates lots of Latin terms and uses some common expressions to mean uncommon things. This glossary is here to help you sort through some of the definitions you need to know to make sense of the work you do as a paralegal.

Tip If you don’t find the word you’re looking for in this list, consult a legal dictionary such as Webster’s New World Law Dictionary Online; Black’s Law Dictionary Online (

A finding of not guilty, an absolution of guilt, or a jury verdict of not guilty in a criminal action.
A lawsuit brought in court.
ad damnum clause:
See prayer for relief.
An amount of money conferred by the judge in addition to the damage award provided by the jury. The judge grants a new trial unless the losing party agrees to add a certain amount to the damage award. See also remittitur.
ad hoc:
For a specific purpose. An ad hoc committee organizes to achieve a particular goal and then disbands.
To end or postpone to a later time.
administrative agency:
An agency of the executive branch of government whose duty is to carry out statutes ...

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