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Law: Legal Language

The library guide for Cambridge University's Squire Law Library.

Legal Terms

The study of law requires familiarity with some unique language and legal terms. The following page highlights some of the dictionaries and reference works that are available in print and electronically.

LexisNexis Legal Glossary

A legal glossary produced by LexisNexis for Cambridge students. Created with student input and with explanatory videos

LexisNexis Legal Glossary

Index of Legal Terms

Oxford Reference Online

Oxford Reference Online service provides full text access to a range of reference titles including A Dictionary of Law, A Dictionary of Law Enforcement, A Guide to Latin in International Law and The New Oxford Companion to Law.


A pile of colouful spines of legal dictionaries and law books

Legal Dictionaries

The Squire Law Library has several print dictionaries available which provide clear definitions and, in some cases more detailed descriptions, of legal terms. These are kept in the Reference Collection, near the Enquiry Desk and include:

Introductions to Common Law Jurisdictions

You can find several introductory texts to the common law system via iDiscover. These include:

Writing for Law

There is no set style for academic legal writing. However, you can find a range of books available providing guidance on writing for law and the use of legal language in your own work. These include:

For help with referencing material consult the separate referencing tab above.

Writing Tools

This is a short list of some online writing tools that may be of use:

Writers Diet 

Copy and paste a sample of text (100 to 1000 words) to find out if your writing is flabby or fit.

Readability Analyzer 

Estimates the readability of a passage of text using the Flesch Reading Ease, Fog Scale Level, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, and other metrics.

Difficult Word Finder

Helps you write clearly and concisely by identifying possible weak points in your prose.

Academic Phrasebank 

Aims to provide you with examples of some of the phraseological ‘nuts and bolts’ of writing organised according to the main sections of a research paper or dissertation

Verb Cheat Sheet 

A verb cheat sheet from the Thesis Whisperer "The verb you use to describe someone else’s work indicates your feeling about the quality of the work."

Legal Language

An image of the text for the "law" entry in a dictionary fading into the distance

Halsbury's Laws of England

Halsbury's Laws of England covers the whole spectrum of English Law, and can be browsed by topic or searched. This can be a useful starting point if you are doing research on a particular area of law. It’s available online via Lexis. Alternatively, the print volumes are held in the Squire Law Library on the first floor in bookstack 5.

Critical Reading course

An advert for a Critical Reading course available on Moodle. Click on the image to link to the course on Moodle

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