Legal Language by Peter M. TiersmaLegal Language by Peter M. Tiersma

Legal Language

byPeter M. Tiersma

Paperback | May 15, 2000

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 210 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Statutes, judicial opinions, contracts, deeds, and wills profoundly affect our daily lives, but their language tends to be often nearly impossible to understand. In this lively history of legal language, Peter Tiersma slices through the thicket of legalese, explaining where it comes from, why lawyers continue to cling to it, and why it's doesn't have to be an inevitable feature of our legal system.

"Legal Language will resonate with lawyers . . . and any non-lawyer who has waded through legal documents, or has tuned in to the latest trial on Court TV."—Carmie D. Boccuzzi, Jr., Boston Book Review

"[A] masterful, highly readable, and enjoyable book. . . . Legal Language is truly a fun book to read."—David Schultz, Law and Politics Book Review
Title:Legal LanguageFormat:PaperbackDimensions:328 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:May 15, 2000Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226803031

ISBN - 13:9780226803036

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

1: Celts, Anglo-Saxons, and Danes
2: The Norman Conquest and the Rise of French
3: The Resurgence of English
4: Talking Like a Lawyer
5: The Quest for Precision
6: The Legal Lexicon
7: Interpretation and Meaning
8: Variation
9: Pleadings: Constructing the Legal Narrative
10: Testimony and Truth
11: Completing the Story
12: What Makes Legal Language Difficult to Understand?
13: Plain English
14: Communicating with the Jury
App. A: An Anglo-Saxon Legal Document
App. B: A Case in Law French
App. C: A Modern Will
App. D: Excerpts from Jury Instructions
App. E: Original Citibank Promissory Note
App. F: Revised Citibank Promissory Note
Select Bibliography
Word and Phrase Index
General Index

From Our Editors

This revealing academic study by Peter M. Tiersma explains how legal language came to be so confusing in statutes, judicial opinions, contracts, deeds and wills. Legal Language attempts to clarify some of the legalese by explaining its origins, why it is necessary to use it and why it might be necessary to simplify it one day soon. It is recommended for scholars or professional practitioners. This attempt at demystification received excellent reviews from the Boston Book Review and the Law and Politics Book Review.