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labor and materials




(time and materials) n. what some builders or repair people contract to provide and be paid for, rather than a fixed price or a percentage of the costs. In many states, if the person performing the work is not a licensed contractor, he/she is limited to labor and materials in any lawsuit for contrac…


laches




n. the legal doctrine that a legal right or claim will not be enforced or allowed if a long delay in asserting the right or claim has prejudiced the adverse party (hurt the opponent) as a sort of “legal ambush.” Examples: a) knowing the correct property line, Oliver Owner fails to bring a lawsuit to…


land




n. real property, real estate (and all that grows thereon), and the right to minerals underneath and the airspace over it. It may include improvements like buildings, but not necessarily. The owner of the land may give a long-term (like 99 years) lease to another with the right to build on it. The i…


landlady




n. female of landlord or owner of real property from whom one rents or leases.


landlocked




adj. referring to a parcel of real property which has no access or egress (entry or exit) to a public street and cannot be reached except by crossing another’s property. In such a case there is an “implied easement” over the adjoining lot from which it was created (carved out).


landlord




n. a person who owns real property and rents or leases it to another, called a “tenant.”


landlord and tenant




n. the name for the area of law concerning renting and leasing property and the rights of both the owner and the renter or lessee.


landlord’s lien




n. the right of a landlord to sell abandoned personal property left on rented or leased premises by a former tenant to cover unpaid rent or damages to the property. However, to exercise this lien the landlord must carefully follow procedures which differ in each state, but generally require written …


lapse




1) v. to fail to occur, particularly a gift made in a will. 2) v. to become non-operative. 3) n. the termination of a gift made by will or for future distribution from a trust, caused by the death of the person to whom the gift was intended (the beneficiary, legatee, devisee) prior to the death of t…


larceny




n. the crime of taking the goods of another person without permission (usually secretly), with the intent of keeping them. It is one form of theft. Some states differentiate between grand larceny and petty larceny based on the value of the stolen goods. Grand larceny is a felony with a state prison …


last antecedent rule




n. a doctrine of interpretation (construction) of statutes that any qualifying words or phrases refer to the language immediately preceding the qualifier, unless common sense shows that it was meant to apply to something more distant or less obvious. Example: “The commercial vehicular license shall …


last clear chance




n. a rule of law in determining responsibility for damages caused by negligence, which provides that if the plaintiff (the party suing for damages) is negligent, that will not matter if the defendant (the party being sued for damages caused by his/her negligence) could have still avoided the acciden…


last will and testament




n. a fancy and redundant way of saying “will.” Lawyers and clients like the formal resonance of the language. Will and testament mean the same thing. A document will be the “last” will if the maker of it dies before writing another one.


latent defect




n. a hidden flaw, weakness or imperfection in an article which a seller knows about, but the buyer cannot discover by reasonable inspection. It includes a hidden defect in the title to land, such as an incorrect property description. Generally, this entitles the purchaser to get his/her money back (…


lateral support




n. the right of a land- owner to assurance that his/her neighbor’s land will provide support against any slippage, cave-in or landslide. Should the adjoining owner excavate into the soil for any reason (foundation, basement, leveling) then there must be a retaining wall constructed (or other protect…


law




n. 1) any system of regulations to govern the conduct of the people of a community, society or nation, in response to the need for regularity, consistency and justice based upon collective human experience. Custom or conduct governed by the force of the local king were replaced by laws almost as soo…


law and motion calendar




n. a court calendar in which only motions and special legal arguments are heard.


law book




n. any of numerous volumes dealing with law, including statutes, reports of cases, digests of cases, commentaries on particular topics, encyclopedias, textbooks, summaries of the law, dictionaries, legal forms and various combinations of these such as case reports with commentaries. Statutes of ever…


law of admiralty




n. statutes, customs and treaties dealing with actions on navigable waters. It is synonymous with maritime law.


law of the case




n. once a judge has decided a legal question during the conduct of a lawsuit, he/she is unlikely to change his/her views and will respond that the ruling is the “law of the case.”


law of the land




n. a slang term for existing laws.


lawsuit




n. a common term for a legal action by one person or entity against another person or entity, to be decided in a court of law, sometimes just called a “suit.” The legal claims within a lawsuit are called “causes of action.”


lay a foundation




v. in evidence, to provide to the judge the qualification of a witness (particularly an expert witness) or a document or other piece of evidence which assures the court of the talent and experience of a witness or the authenticity of the document or article. Example: a medical report cannot be intro…


leading




1) v. short for “leading the witness,” in which the attorney during a trial or deposition asks questions in a form in which he/she puts words in the mouth of the witness or suggests the answer. Leading is improper if the attorney is questioning a witness called by that attorney and presumably friend…


leading question




n. a question asked of a witness by an attorney during a trial or a deposition (questioning under oath outside of court), suggesting an answer or putting words in the mouth of the witness. Such a question is often objected to, usually with the simple objection: “leading.” A leading question is allow…


leading the witness




n. asking a question during a trial or deposition which puts words in the mouth of the witness or suggests the answer, which is improper questioning of a witness called by that attorney, but is proper in cross-examination or allowed if a witness is declared by the judge to be a hostile or adverse wi…


lease




1) n. a written agreement in which the owner of property (either real estate or some object like an automobile) allows use of the property for a specified period of time (term) for specific periodic payments (rent), and other terms and conditions. Leases of real property describe the premises (often…


leasehold




n. the real estate which is the subject of a lease (a written rental agreement for an extended period of time). The term is commonly used to describe improvements on real property when the improvements are built on land owned by one party which is leased for a long term (such as 99 years) to the own…


legacy




n. a gift of personal property or money to a beneficiary (legatee) of a will. While technically legacy does not include real property (which is a “devise”), legacy usually refers to any gift from the estate of one who has died. It is synonymous with the word “bequest.”


legal




adj., adv. according to law, not in violation of law or anything related to the law.


legal action




n. any lawsuit, petition or prosecution.


legal advertising




n. 1) notices of probate sales and other documents required by law to be published in court-approved local newspapers of general circulation. 2) commercials for the legal services of lawyers and law firms, which may range from television spots with actors to garish ads in telephone books’ yellow pag…


legal age




n. the age at which a person is responsible for his/her own actions (including the capacity to enter into a contract which is enforceable by the other party), for damages for negligence or intentional wrongs without a parent being liable and for punishment as an adult for a crime. In almost all stat…


legal aid society




n. an organization formed to assist persons who have limited or no financial means but need legal help, usually sponsored by the local bar association’s donations, sometimes with some local governmental financial support. Such societies examine the assets and income of the applicant, decide if the p…


legal duty




n. the responsibility to others to act according to the law. Proving the duty (such as not to be negligent, to keep premises safe, or to drive within the speed limit) and then showing that the duty was breached are required elements of any lawsuit for damages due to negligence or intentional injurie…


legal fiction




n. a presumption of fact assumed by a court for convenience, consistency or to achieve justice. There is an old adage: “Fictions arise from the law, and not law from fictions.”


legal separation




n. a court-decreed right to live apart, with the rights and obligations of divorced persons, but without divorce. The parties are still married and cannot remarry. A spouse may petition for a legal separation usually on the same basis as for a divorce, and include requests for child custody, alimony…


legal services




n. the work performed by a lawyer for a client.


legal tender




n. all money issued by the government.


legalese




n. slang for the sometimes arcane, convoluted and specialized jargon of lawyers and legal scholars.


legatee




n. a person or organization receiving a gift of an object or money under the terms of the will of a person who has died. Although technically a legatee does not receive real property (a devisee), “legatee” is often used to designate a person who takes anything pursuant (according) to the terms of a …


legitimate




adj., adv1) legal, proper, real. 2) referring to a child born to parents who are married. A baby born to parents who are not married is illegitimate, but can be made legitimate (legitimatized) by the subsequent marriage of the parents. 3) v. to make proper and/or legal.


lemon law




n. statutes adopted in some states to make it easier for a buyer of a new vehicle to sue for damages or replacement if the dealer or manufacturer cannot make it run properly after a reasonable number of attempts to fix the car. Without a “lemon law” auto makers have often demanded the buyer come bac…


lessee




n. the person renting property under a written lease from the owner (lessor). He/she/it is the tenant and the lessor is the landlord.


lesser-included offense




n. in criminal law, a crime which is proved by the same facts as a more serious crime. Example: Ignatz “Itchy” Fingers is charged with armed robbery, but the prosecution fails to prove Itchy used his pistol since the victims do not recall the gun, but does prove he took the jewels. Thus, he is convi…


lessor




n. the owner of real property who rents it to a lessee pursuant to a written lease. Thus, he/she/it is the landlord and the lessee is the tenant.


let




v. 1) to allow or permit. This is distinguished from “against one’s will.” The word can be very important legally, as in the statement “Lucy let Johnny have sexual relations with her,” which can make a huge difference in a claim of rape. 2) to lease or rent real property, particularly a room or apar…


letter of credit




n. a document issued by a bank guaranteeing to provide a customer a line of credit (automatic loan up to a certain amount) for money or security for a loan. Such a letter is used primarily to facilitate long-distance business transactions.


letters




n. shorthand for letters testamentary or letters of administration.


letters of administration




n. a document issued by the court clerk which states the authority of the administrator of an estate of a person who has died, when there is no will or no available executor named by a will and an administrator has been appointed by the court. It is issued during probate of the estate as soon as the…


letters testamentary




n. a document issued by the court clerk which states the authority of the executor of an estate of a person who has died. It is issued during probate of the estate as soon as the court approves the appointment of the executor named in the will and the executor files a security bond if one is necessa…


leverage




1) n. the use of borrowed money to purchase real estate or business assets, usually involving money equaling a high percentage of the value of the purchased property. 2) v. to borrow most of the funds necessary as a loan against real estate to buy other real estate or business assets. The dangers of…


levy




1) v. to seize (take) property upon a writ of execution (an order to seize property) issued by the court to pay a money judgment granted in a lawsuit. The levy is actually made by a sheriff or other official at the request of the holder of the judgment (the winner in the lawsuit), and the property w…


lewd and lascivious




adj., adv. references to conduct which includes people living together who are known not to be married, entertainment which aims at arousing the libido or primarily sexual sensation, open solicitation for prostitution or indecent exposure of genitalia (which is itself a crime). Due to the tendency o…


liability




n. one of the most significant words in the field of law, liability means legal responsibility for one’s acts or omissions. Failure of a person or entity to meet that responsibility leaves him/her/it open to a lawsuit for any resulting damages or a court order to perform (as in a breach of contract …


liable




adj. responsible or obligated. Thus, a person or entity may be liable for damages due to negligence, liable to pay a debt, liable to perform an act which he/she/it contracted to do, or liable to punishment for commission of a crime. Failure to meet the responsibility or obligation opens one up to a …


libel




1) n. to publish in print (including pictures), writing or broadcast through radio, television or film, an untruth about another which will do harm to that person or his/her reputation, by tending to bring the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt of others. Libel is the written or broadca…


libel per se




n. broadcast or written publication of a false statement about another which accuses him/her of a crime, immoral acts, inability to perform his/her profession, having a loathsome disease (like syphilis) or dishonesty in business. Such claims are considered so obviously harmful that malice need not b…


liberty




n. freedom from restraint and the power to follow one’s own will to choose a course of conduct. Liberty, like freedom, has its inherent restraint to act without harm to others and within the accepted rules of conduct for the benefit of the general public.


license




1) n. governmental permission to perform a particular act (like getting married), conduct a particular business or occupation, operate machinery or vehicles after proving ability to do so safely or use property for a certain purpose. 2) n. the certificate that proves one has been granted authority t…


licensee




n. a person given a license by the government or under private agreement.


licensor




n. a person who gives another a license, particularly a private party doing so, such as a business giving someone a license to sell its product.


lie detector test




n. a popular name for a polygraph which tests the physiological reaction of a person to questions asked by a testing expert. A potential or actual criminal defendant or possible witness cannot be forced or ordered to take a lie detector test. Some habitual liars pass lie detector tests, and innocent…


lien




n. any official claim or charge against property or funds for payment of a debt or an amount owed for services rendered. A lien is usually a formal document signed by the party to whom money is owed and sometimes by the debtor who agrees to the amount due. A lien carries with it the right to sell pr…


lienor




n. a person who holds a lien on another’s property or funds.


life estate




n. the right to use or occupy real property for one’s life. Often this is given to a person (such as a family member) by deed or as a gift under a will with the idea that a younger person would then take the property upon the death of the one who receives the life estate. Title may also return to th…


life without possibility of parole




n. a sentence sometimes given for particularly vicious criminals in murder cases or to repeat felons, particularly if the crime is committed in a state which has no death penalty, the jury chooses not to impose the death penalty, or the judge feels it is simpler to lock the prisoner up and “throw aw…


limitation of actions




n. the period of time in which a person has to file with the clerk of the court or appropriate agency what he/she believes is a valid lawsuit or claim. The period varies greatly depending on what type of case is involved, whether the suit is against the government, whether it is by a minor, and most…


limited jurisdiction




n. courts’ authority over certain types of cases such as bankruptcy, claims against the government, probate, family matters, immigration and customs or limitations on courts’ authority to try cases involving maximum amounts of money or value.


limited liability




n. the maximum amount a person participating in a business can lose or be charged in case of claims against the company or its bankruptcy. A stockholder in a corporation can only lose his/her investment, and a limited partner can only lose his/her investment, but a general partner can be responsible…


limited partnership




n. a special type of partnership which is very common when people need funding for a business, or when they are putting together an investment in a real estate development. A limited partnership requires a written agreement between the business management, who is (are) general partner or partners, a…


lineal descendant




n. a person who is in direct line to an ancestor, such as child, grandchild, great-grandchild and on forever. A lineal descendant is distinguished from a “collateral” descendant, which would be from the line of a brother, sister, aunt or uncle.


lineup




n. a law enforcement method used in an attempt to have a witness or victim identify a person suspected of committing a crime. The suspect is included in a line of people, including non-criminals and others (such as plainclothesmen, office clerks, etc.). Law enforcement officials ask each person in t…


liquidate




v. to sell the assets of a business, paying bills and dividing the remainder among shareholders, partners or other investors.


liquidated damages




n. an amount of money agreed upon by both parties to a contract which one will pay to the other upon breaching (breaking or backing out of) the agreement or if a lawsuit arises due to the breach. Sometimes the liquidated damages are the amount of a deposit or a down payment, or are based on a formul…


lis pendens




(lease pen-dense) n. Latin for “a suit pending,” a written notice that a lawsuit has been filed which concerns the title to real property or some interest in that real property. The lis pendens (or notice of pending action) is filed with the clerk of the court, certified that it has been filed, and …


literary property




n. the writings of an author which entitles him/her to the use of the work, including publication, and sale or license for a profit to others who will then have the right to publish it. Literary property includes books, articles, poetry, movie scripts, computer programs and any writing which lends i…


litigant




n. any party to a lawsuit. This means plaintiff, defendant, petitioner, respondent, cross-complainant and cross-defendant, but not a witness or attorney.


litigation




n. any lawsuit or other resort to the courts to determine a legal question or matter.


litigious




adj. referring to a person who constantly brings or prolongs legal actions, particularly when the legal maneuvers are unnecessary or unfounded. Such persons often enjoy legal battles, controversy, the courtroom, the spotlight, use the courts to punish enemies, seek profit, and pursue minor matters w…


living trust




n. sometimes called an inter vivos (Latin for “within one’s life”) trust, a trust created by a declaration of trust executed by the trustor or trustors (also called settlor or settlors) during his/her/their lifetime, as distinguished from a “testamentary trust,” which is created by a will and only c…


living will




n. also called “a durable power of attorney,” it is a document authorized by statutes in all states in which a person appoints someone as his/her proxy or representative to make decisions on maintaining extraordinary life-support if the person becomes too ill, is in a coma or is certain to die. In m…


locus




(low-cuss) n. Latin for “place,” it means “place which” this or that occurred.


loiter




v. to linger or hang around in a public place or business where one has no particular or legal purpose. In many states, cities and towns there are statutes or ordinances against loitering by which the police can arrest someone who refuses to “move along.” There is a question as to whether such laws …


long cause




n. a lawsuit in which it is estimated that a trial will take more than one day. In many courts the so-called “short cause” cases will be scheduled more quickly than long cause cases, since “short cause” cases are easier to fit into busy court calendars. If a trial estimated as a “short cause” turns …


long-arm statute




n. law which gives a local state court jurisdiction over an out-of-state company or individual whose actions caused damage locally or to a local resident. The legal test is whether the out-of-state defendant has contacts within the state which are “sufficiently substantial.” An accident or injury wi…


loss




n. 1) the value placed on injury or damages due to an accident caused by another’s negligence, a breach of contract or other wrongdoing. The amount of monetary damages can be determined in a lawsuit. 2) when expenses are greater than profits, the difference between the amount of money spent and the …


loss of bargain




n. the inability to complete a sale or other business deal, caused by another’s breach of contract, intentional interference with one’s business, negligence or some other wrongdoing. The amount of monetary damages resulting from this loss can be determined in a lawsuit.


loss of consortium




n. the inability of one’s spouse to have normal marital relations, which is a euphemism for sexual intercourse. Such loss arises as a claim for damages when a spouse has been injured and cannot participate in sexual relations for a period of time or permanently due to the injury, or suffers from men…


loss of use




n. the inability to use an automobile, premises or some equipment due to damage to the vehicle, premises or articles caused by the negligence or other wrongdoing of another. Examples: compensation for each day a car is out of commission during repairs or for the period of non-occupancy while a burne…


lower court




n. 1) any court of lesser rank, such as municipal or justice court below a superior or county court, a superior or county court below an appeals court, or a federal District Court of Appeals below the U.S. Supreme Court. 2) a reference in an appeal to the trial court which originally heard the case….






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