Terms to Know BEFORE Starting Law School

Welcome to the Kazi Law Firm! We are a boutique law firm steeped in Texas tradition personifying the warmth and congeniality consistent with southern hospitality. We believe in preserving integrity and professionalism with true Texan charm, staying true to our roots, while providing essential, affordable legal services to all. Located just north of Dallas, Texas in the rapidly growing suburb of Frisco; the Kazi Law Firm concentrates on contracts drafting and review, immigration law, will & estates, real estate law, landlord, tenant, mediation, and general business law needs.

So, you’re thinking of going to law school? Perhaps, you’ve already been accepted and will be embarking on your legal journey soon? Well, first of all, Congratulations on choosing a challenging, yet rewarding career path. One of the most common questions that I receive from law school prospects is “what are some common terms or verbage that I need to know before starting law school?”

So, today, I thought about briefly discussing some of the most widely used terminology found on American law school campuses. The first word you’ll likely be exposed to is the 1L, 2L, 3L distinction. This is simply referring to the year of law school that you’re enrolled in. Full-time law school programs are 3 years long, with 1L referring to your first year, 2L your second year, etc. Think of it simply as a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior year distinctions in an undergraduate program.

Long Days & Late Nights at the Law Library
Where all the cool kids hang out!

Moving on, from your first day on campus, you will hear murmurs in the halls about the inevitable goal of every law student in the country – passing the state BAR exam. The Bar Exam, or the “bar” is the exam you must take and pass at the end of your 3 year journey to become licensed to practice law in your state. You’ll hear the “practice” of law – yes, that’s right – it’s not an exact science and you will be practicing your craft for the duration of your legal career. When you graduate law school, you earn a juris doctorate degree, but you are not a lawyer until you pass the state bar and are sworn in. The Bar Exam is administered in February and July of each year and is 2-3 days long, depending on the state. In Texas, the grueling Bar Exam is 2 ½ days long.

You can’t be on campus for a day without hearing about the infamous BlueBook. You’re probably wondering what on Earth this is? Well, quite simply this is “holy grail” for legal writing courses, law firms, law journals and law reviews for uniform citation. You’ll overhear people talking about “bluebooking” which is simply checking your citations.

One of the most notorious and often anxious ridden traditions of law school is “cold” calling, “stand & deliver” or oftentimes in Texas referred to as the Socratic method. As if first year law students aren’t anxious enough, this method is basically a professor grilling a random student on some aspect of a case you were assigned to read. The Socratic method oftentimes is the bane of every incoming law student’s existence and sounds absolutely terrifying. The thought of being called on at random and made to answer questions back and forth with your law professor (who will probably refer to you as “Counselor”), discussing the subtle nuances of case law, while your equally terrified classmates look on. Most will be avoiding eye contact if possible – afraid they will be the next victim on the “hot seat.” Don’t worry! Your fellow classmates will get their fair share of cold calling throughout the first year and pretty soon, you’ll hardly be phased by this method of Q&A in law school.

So, moving on to basic abbreviations you should be familiar with in your first year of law school. Your 1L year will consist of classes often abbreviated as “civ pro” (civil procedure), “crim law (criminal law), and con law (constitutional law). You will also find the term “Contracts” abbreviated as simply “K.” There will also be classes that are based on the UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) – these classes will include Sales, Secured Transactions, and Commercial Paper (taken your 2L or 3L years).


Switching gears now on to basic terminology with regards to legal opinions. Essentially, your 3 years of law school will be spent studying case law, which is law derived from a collection of cases. Basically, judges write opinions and that creates case law or precedents. Case law can be common law or be used to explain or supplement statutory law. Oftentimes, you hear about the “dissenting” opinion – which is a disagreement, among judges, with the majority opinion in the case. Likewise, you have likely heard judges say they “concur” or agree with the opinion.

Further, I’m often asked about who the defendant in a case is and how they can be easily identified. Simply put, in a civil case, the defendant is the person being sued. In a criminal action, the defendant is the person who is on trial for the crime. Going hand in hand with that, the prosecutor is the attorney bringing charges against the defendant in a criminal suit.

On the contrary, the party that is bringing the lawsuit or initiating the claim is called the plaintiff.

Finally, rounding out today’s discussion are the handful of terms you will run into on day 1 of your law school journey. Your textbook for class is referred to as your case book. As you read and prepare for each class you will be expected to “brief” them. Not to worry if that sounds completely foreign to you right now. You will be instructed on how to properly brief a case. However, in a nutshell – briefing a case is simply summarizing the critical facts of the case, the issue, and the holding (judgement/court ruling) so that you can easily discuss it with your professor when called to “stand and deliver” in class.

The databases that you will be using to research the law are called LexisNexis and Westlaw. Don’t worry – you do not need to know how to use them prior to entering law school. Representatives from each will help you learn and navigate the databases.

Ultimately, there is no way to escape the illustrious study tool called “the outline.” Second and third-year students may offer to share their outlines with you, but it’s prudent to write your own as these outlines will be a critical part of your final exam prep at the end of each semester. Outlines are basically a way to organize the information you learned in a particular class. Keep in mind there are no right or wrong ways to outline. The outline is a tool to help jog your memory and assist you in recalling information quickly for your exam. Some people will use a flow chart, flashcards, graphs, charts, etc. Remember – mastery of each subject is critical to your success in law school as there are no quizzes, tests, or traditional graded homework assignments in law school. Your final grade for each class is based solely on your performance on the final exam. One grade on one exam (worth 100%) at the end of the semester is your only method of showing your mastery of a subject. There is only one proverbial bite at the apple in law school.

I hope this has been helpful for some of you in quelling your fears or answering your questions prior to law school. If you have any other questions or want me to discuss any other topics further, please feel free to comment below or reach out on Instagram @kazilawfirm. I am happy to impart my wisdom and experience in any way that I can. Remember, the only foolish questions are the ones that aren’t asked. Best of luck to you all!

I built my law practice on the premise of being a life raft in a sea of sharks. I want to be an advocate for those that have been wronged and are too intimidated to seek help. My firm is here to explore your options, guide you through your legal journey, and give you that safe space to ask questions! There’s no such thing as a stupid question…Only the ones you don’t ask. So, my question to my clients is not “do you have any questions?” But rather “what questions do you have?”

As always, the Kazi Law Firm is standing by to help you in your time of need. Don’t hesitate to contact us today. We specialize in real estate law, landlord-tenant disputes, immigration, and wills & estate planning. Family is at the core of our practice. Just as we treat our family with respect and understanding, we treat yours. Come join the Kazi Law Firm family today!

Why swim alone in shark-infested waters when you don’t need to?

Leave a Reply