The Unknown Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions
James E. Clapp, Elizabeth G. Thornburg, Marc Galanter, and Fred R. Shapiro
November 22, 2011
368 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
17 scattered b/w
Law-related words and phrases abound in our everyday language, often without our being aware of their origins or their particular legal significance: boilerplate, jailbait, pound of flesh, rainmaker, the third degree. This insightful and entertaining book reveals the unknown stories behind familiar legal expressions that come from sources as diverse as Shakespeare, vaudeville, and Dr. Seuss. Separate entries for each expression follow no prescribed formula but instead focus on the most interesting, enlightening, and surprising aspects of the words and their evolution. Popular myths and misunderstandings are explored and exploded, and the entries are augmented with historical images and humorous sidebars.
Lively and unexpected, Lawtalk will draw a diverse array of readers with its abundance of linguistic, legal, historical, and cultural information. Those readers should be forewarned: upon finishing one entry, there is an irresistible temptation to turn to another, and yet another . . .
“This imaginative book will enlighten and amuse not only lawyers, but anyone who thinks about law, talks about law, or has to deal with law—that is to say, all of us,”—Linda Greenhouse, author of Becoming Justice Blackmun
“Lawtalk is not just entertaining, but also quite educational. Lawyers, judges, and lay people interested in the workings of the legal system can learn a great deal from it,”—Peter Tiersma, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.
“Well-researched and entertaining...a skillful mix of scholarship and readability...extensively documented with social, cultural, historic, and, of course, legal sources.”—Joan Pedzich, Library Journal
“Fun and well-researched.”—Howard Shapiro, Philadelphia Inquirer
“[Lawtalk] would be a treasured newcomer to any bookshelf and provides an enlightening insight into the countless pieces of ‘legalese’ to which we are all exposed daily, but have had little reason to question - until now.”—Law Actually