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Glossary of Legal Terms
(Starting with "L")

By Henry Dahut,,
Studio City, CA, U.S.A.


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labor union

A group of employees who organize in order to further their common interests as employees.


Someone who rents out property to a tenant.


The intentional taking of another person's property without legal permission. What constitutes legal permission varies from state to state. Whether it is grand larceny or petty larceny depends on the actual value of the property stolen.


A system of rules and procedures employed by organized society to regulate the conduct of people in that society. Most legal philosophers believe that for law to be considered enforceable it must serve the good of society as a whole. Others believe that law is whatever the rulers say it is and no more. The original root of law comes from the Bible, in which the first writings of what is good and evil were detailed for all to read. For example, the phrase "eye for an eye" can be found in early teachings. The first law system which had a direct influence on American law came from the Roman Emperor Justinian in 528. The principal source of American law is from "common law" which came from England. Common law is based on custom and precedent. Legislative law is based on the written code.

law of the case

Upon the determination of a legal issue by the court that determination becomes binding throughout the life of the case.

lay a foundation

A determination by the court to hear and consider why certain evidence is sufficiently relevant and trustworthy before allowing it into evidence. For example, before an expert can give expert opinion as a witness a foundation must be laid establishing that the expert is qualified by virtue of training, education and experience to give such testimony.

leading question

A style of questioning in which the answer is suggested by the wording of the question. Leading questions are allowed in cross-examination but generally prohibited in direct examination unless the witness is a child.


A written agreement for rental of certain premises for a fixed period of time (such as 6 months or 1 year).

legal custody

The parent-child relationship in which the parent has the right to make decisions about the child's lifestyle (for example, what religion the child should be raised in or what school the child should attend).

legal separation

A proceeding in which the property and support rights of a husband and wife are determined by a judge, but the parties remain legally married. Legal separation can be used in place of divorce if the spouses want to live separately but do not want to get divorced because of religious reasons.


Another word for "tenant."

lesser-included offense

A lesser crime which is proved by the same facts as a more serious crime. The defendant is typically not charged with the lesser crime on the basis that the punishment is already covered by the more serious crime.


Another word for "landlord."


A determination of who is responsible for an injury or event.


When someone publishes a written or printed lie about you.


The freedom to choose one’s own destiny within an ordered society. The liberty of a society in general is dependent on the liberty of every member of that society as individuals.

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