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The language of the law is not always easy to understand, especially for one who is not well studied in this subject area. Whether it is a witness statement, signing of a contract or even a memo; there are some words that are difficult to place for a layman. Law script can sometimes be riddled in the old Latin language with the occasional French phrases that leave you puzzled. It is not easy for everyone, even legislators who do not stay up to date can confuse certain terms, and need to know the full context for reference to understand what is being conveyed. Lawyers undergo years of schooling, practice, essay writing and experience before they have all the terms at their fingertips and they are well versed in their craft. Referring to cases and judgments from memory need a seasoned legislator. Therefore, it is okay if you need some help with reading legal documents. It is not an easy task.

Read through the Document

Now you have an important legal document that you need to understand. Perhaps it’s for a business contract, new lease or employment contract. You know the importance of going cover to cover and reading the fine print. After all, the devil is always in the detail, but you are feeling inadequate. The first thing to do would be to go over it in its entirety and try to make sense of it on your own. Make a note where you’re not sure for future reference. You may need to call a lawyer, your paralegal sister or nephew to help you with the meanings, or even mark it down to Google it later.

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Read Books

If you’re lucky a copy of legal lingo for dummies is available on Amazon, and you can order a copy. In the meantime, the internet is your friend. Make specific searches on google to address the terms being used and how they are applied. It helps to use Google Scholar to read up on authoritative material that will guide you. If this does not work, simply call up a friend who deals with contracts, does business often or who is more familiar with the terms based on their capacity; to guide you on what the document really means.


Sit down with a legal dictionary and decipher the test as if you are going through a puzzle piece. The person whom you have sought assistance from should be able to guide you to understand the documents better or give you a clear explanation. In the age of information, you cannot get stuck when it comes to knowledge. If you ask the right questions, then you will surely get the answer.

Professional Assistance

If the legal documents are of an intimate nature, perhaps they are sensitive financial documents or a private business transaction; then it is best to call a lawyer who can keep it confidential. This is your best bet. The lawyer will be able to explain the terms plain and simple, and also keep the discussion confidential. As for your questions, they will be more than happy to answer them in full detail to your satisfaction.

Reference number

Previous examples of a similar document can go a long way to help you understand the document given the same setting or case issues. Also, consider the reference number of the document. This applies if you are dealing with a specific case as perhaps a student or legislator, and you have to read on it. It is useful when it comes as a letter from a lawyer or law firm, which identifies the lawyer running the case. If it is a court document, the court will give it a number when it is filed. This is usually the case number, and when it began. When it comes to legislation, this is a law made by the parliament a legal document will have a number to indicate the number of versions for the document exists prior to the current one. Using some of these tips should help you get to the bottom of the document.