Sometimes, it can seem like lawyers speak an entirely different language. But for non-lawyers in a variety of fields, being familiar with a few legal terms can give them a competitive edge when discussing industry regulations or potential deals. Here’s a brief list of common legal terms and their meanings.


This term refers to an official request of some kind that is submitted to a court and seeks resolution, whether it’s a lawsuit, restraining order, or criminal charges. A cause of action is the reason behind filing a judicial request, such as gross negligence, harassment, or real estate fraud.


Damages are the total sum of money that is rewarded to a party after a lawsuit. An attorney can file a suit on behalf of an aggrieved party to seek compensatory damages, to make up for lost wages and emotional distress, or punitive damages, to punish the at-fault party for their missteps.

Medical Malpractice

Malpractice describes a series of events in which one party commits an error or omission that injures someone they were caring for. In a medical context, this applies to healthcare professionals whose failure to follow established best practices harms a patient.


This refers to the practice of obtaining information in the early phases of legal proceedings. Both parties share their findings with each other, as well as performing additional research. During discovery, each side discloses the arguments and evidence they will use to support their position. It might seem counterintuitive to be so transparent, but discovery can help save time. If one party’s case clearly has more merit than the other’s, they can reach a settlement and avoid going to court.

Understanding these common terms and processes can make it easier to understand some of the jargon you encounter. However, if you need help with a legal matter, you should consult an experienced lawyer for guidance. At The Law Office of Arthur P. Skarmeas, LLC, our attorneys are licensed to assist clients in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. To schedule an appointment, fill out our contact form or call (978) 887-0093.

Leave a Comment