Legal terms glossary

What Did My Attorney Just Say?

California business & construction attorney

Have you ever spoken to your attorney, and wondered what did he or she just say? Attorneys have their own language. We learn it in law school, get tested on it, and during the course of the 3 years spent in law school, it is hammered into our brains. We have to understand the vocabulary and talk the talk to be able to pass the courses, get our Juris Doctor degree and pass the bar exam to get a license in the state in which we want to practice.

But what happens after we get licensed?

We have to talk to clients who are regular non-lawyer people, to understand and solve their problems. We have to really listen to our clients’ issues, look at the documents they have, discuss the problem with them, and provide a solution.

This is where the communication gap arises. If a lawsuit is involved, attorneys tell the clients that they have to file a summons and complaint, or an answer and a cross-complaint, do discovery, file motions, go to court for Case Management Conferences, meet and confer with opposing counsel, and on and on. It is only normal for a regular non-lawyer to get lost in all of this legal mumbo jumbo.

Aside from our duty as attorneys to explain all we do in regular language, you as a client can and should ask the lawyer to explain everything for you in non-legal English. You have a right to understand what is said and what does it all mean to you and your case.

The TV image of lawyers and a case going to trial in a few days with witnesses showing up at the last minute to save the day could not be farther from the truth. Litigation cases take a long time (typically one to two years) and you will not see the inside of a courtroom for almost two years. So you will need to be comfortable with your attorney and understand exactly what is going on with the case and how far along the long, protracted path are you.

A good attorney must be able to explain the problem simply and recommend a path to resolve the case as soon as possible so that the client can make an informed decision about his or her case.

So do not be afraid to ask your attorney to explain everything he or she said in a way you can understand and if they are not able to do it, then you are entitled to go to an attorney who can.

As Einstein said: “If you cannot explain something simply, you do not really understand it”!

Look for our next blog post in which we will explain the meaning of some regularly-used legal words and phrases.

Need an attorney to translate what you don’t understand? Call us HERE


This article is informational only and meant to provide guidance. It is not meant to be legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. For what to do in your specific situation, please consult with a qualified Construction Law attorney.


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Pacwest Construction and Development Inc

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AlvaradoSmith APC

Mahyar Ghassemian and her firm are the best construction dispute litigators and negotiators in the industry. Mahyar is an expert in this area. Her firms knows the law and are very tenacious in obtaining the best results for their clients. I have been involved in very lengthy litigation as co-counsel in a very big case and jury trial. Mahyar is one of the hardest working and most effective advocates I have ever had the privilege of working with.

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Hoffman Legal Corporation

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