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Best Law Dictionary

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:18 pm
by butterflyintraining
I'm a new 1L and would like to hear opinions regarding a law dictionary. Do you have a physical copy or use an electronic version? If you have a favorite, which dictionary do you like and why?

Re: Best Law Dictionary

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:24 pm
by soft blue
You'll probably use a law dictionary less than 5 times this year. Use whichever one is in your law library or on the research service you prefer. Don't buy one.

Re: Best Law Dictionary

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:49 pm
by mjb447
Black's Law Dictionary is the most widely relied upon, and it's available on Westlaw. I agree with soft blue, though: it sounds (from this and other questions) like you're preparing for 1L. In that endeavor, buying a law dictionary is almost certainly a waste of money, and spending much time thinking about law dictionaries is probably a waste of time.

Re: Best Law Dictionary

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:40 pm
by BlackAndOrange84
Black's is the only legal dictionary that matters unless you're doing historical research on a statute's meaning (or maybe some other very specialized context). Though Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage, while not as authoritative (I'm not sure I'd ever quote it in a brief), is super helpful for figuring out distinctions between related concepts and how to use the words properly. In terms of pure helpfulness to a 1L, Garner's may actually be much better than Black's. If you like having books, or are a word nerd (nothing wrong with that), pony up the big bucks for the latest Black's. But you'll have access to it through WL once you're in school, so if you don't love having a hard copy at home, don't pay for it. Garner's OTOH is not available online (at least I don't think so).

Re: Best Law Dictionary

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:16 pm
by Barrred
Agree with other posts re not buying one unless you are really into dictionaries. Blacks is the definitive legal dictionary. In terms of non-legal dictionaries, a lot of prominent lawyers/judges like Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition (which is out of print, but which you can still find second hand).

Re: Best Law Dictionary

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:37 pm
by BlackAndOrange84
Just wanted to add one thing: the smaller, paperback dictionaries that are easy to carry around, like the abridged Black's, are hot garbage and a waste of money.

Re: Best Law Dictionary

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 3:54 am
by Bingo_Bongo
The only time I've ever used a legal dictionary is when I want to say in a pleading, "According to Black's Law Dictionary, x means...", which is hardly ever. I never used a legal dictionary in law school, and I've maybe used one two or three times in several years of practice. Typically when I want to know what a word means, I just google it.

Re: Best Law Dictionary

Posted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:39 pm
by downinDtown
butterflyintraining wrote:I'm a new 1L and would like to hear opinions regarding a law dictionary. Do you have a physical copy or use an electronic version? If you have a favorite, which dictionary do you like and why?

Agree that the best legal dictionary is Black's - in fact, I have a copy for sale, but since it was signed by Garner (who's the editor-in-chief), I can't be separated from it too easily....

That being said, I do agree with others that buying your own copy (unless you want my souvenir/shelf show-piece) is probably not worthwhile as every law library (at your school or at your future employer) will have a copy, or you can access through WestLaw.

Some of Garner's other books are much more useful, especially if you're pursuing career in litigation. https://www.amazon.com/Bryan-A.-Garner/e/B00LMRP4R4%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share