Appellate Advocacy Blog

Editor: Tessa L. Dysart
The University of Arizona
James E. Rogers College of Law

Monday, November 13, 2023

Opportunity to contribute to Burton’s Legal Thesaurus' Top New Terms and Expressions in Law for 2023!

This is a guest post from Prof. Margaret Wu.

Two years ago, William Burton, the publisher of Burton’s Legal Thesaurus, established a program to identify new words and expressions that should be added to the lawyer's lexicon, with the goal of creating a helpful resource as well as promoting the growth of clear and precise language.  Since then, Burton’s Legal Thesaurus has published an annual list of terms that gained currency during the year and often reflected trends in legal writing, thinking, practice, and advocacy.  As reported in Law360 as well as this blog, last year’s terms included:

  • Complicit bias: An institution or community’s complicity in sustaining discrimination and harassment.
  • "Computational law," or "complaw”: An interdisciplinary field concerned with the automation of legal reasoning.
  • Lawfare: The use of legal proceedings and systems to damage an opponent.
  • Major questions doctrine: The legal doctrine used for the first time in a United States Supreme Court majority opinion in 2022, striking down the EPA’s 2015 Clean Power Plan and raising major questions of its own as to future effects on agency actions. See Virginia v. Env't Prot. Agency, 142 S. Ct. 2587, 2609-10 (2022).
  • Return to Office (RTO): Referring to issues and policies concerning employees returning to work in their employers’ workspaces after working remotely during the pandemic.

The Select Committee on Terminology of Burton’s Legal Thesaurus* is in the process of compiling the list for 2023 and seeks input from a diverse array of legal scholars and practitioners to identify the words and expressions that made an impact in legal writing and the law this year. There have been a number of technology-related terms that lawyers have had to learn this year, but we also encourage you to think about other developments in our legal vocabulary. If you have a neologism to suggest, please send the term and  suggested definition to  [email protected] by November 21, 2023.  If we select your word or expression, your name and title will be listed in the next edition of the book and in all press releases.  Thank you in advance for helping us build this resource, and we look forward to seeing your submissions!

*The members of this year’s Select Committee on Terminology of Burton’s Legal Thesaurus are Virginia Wise, former Thayer Senior Lecturer on Law at Harvard University; Megan Ma, Assistant Director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science and Technology; Cindy Thomas Archer, Professor of Lawyering Skills at UC Irvine School of Law; and Margaret Wu, Professor of Legal Writing at UC Berkeley School of Law and Chair of the Committee.

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