Legal Abbreviations

Legal abbreviations are commonly found in anything from a book to court documents. Having a common set of abbreviations is very important because it allows everyone reading a legal document to understand what is being presented in writing without having to spell out terms that are frequently utilized. You will be surprised at how many very common abbreviations are actually legal-based.

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List of Legal Abbreviations for Court Documents

There are literally thousands of legal abbreviations, used under a variety of circumstances both inside and outside of the courtroom. The following is a listing of some of the more common abbreviations and symbols you may encounter in legal documents. Some of these may already be familiar to you, while others are more commonly seen only by those who work within the legal field.

Codes, Laws and Organization Abbreviations

Legal documents are full of abbreviations for legal codes. Not only will they cite criminal charges but you’ll also see legal documents and laws, like the Constitution or the First Amendment. Clarify your understanding and refer to these legal abbreviations for court documents as they relate to legal codes, laws and organizations.

  • 1A - First Amendment
  • ABA - American Bar Association
  • ads. - ad sectam (Latin), like v. in cases, except the defendant is listed first (e.g., Wade ads. Roe)
  • A.L.R (2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th) - American Law Reports (when followed by the number it represents in the series or edition)
  • BR or B/R - Bankruptcy
  • CFR - Call for Response or Code of Federal Regulations
  • CL - Common Law
  • CNeg - Contributory Negligence
  • Cs or Cx - Constitution
  • IRC - Internal Revenue Code
  • NDA - Non-Disclosure Agreement
  • PL or Pub.L. - Public Law
  • R.E. or R/E - Real Estate
  • SOL - Statute of Limitations
  • USC - United States Code
  • WTO - World Trade Organization

Legal Term Abbreviations

In addition to laws and codes, you’ll commonly find other general legal terms in legal documents. These include words like “class action” and “counterclaim.” Keep your head above water when reading your legal documents by knowing the abbreviations used here.

  • anor - Another
  • art - Article
  • ATS - At the suit of
  • b/c - Because
  • c. - Chapter
  • CA - Class action
  • c/a - Complaint
  • CB - Casebook
  • C-C - Counterclaim
  • CE - Collateral estoppel
  • Cx-C - Cross-claim
  • DBA - Doing business as
  • Et al. - And others (Latin)
  • F.App'x - Federal appendix
  • HDC - Holder in due course
  • ISLN - International standards lawyer number
  • JNOV - Judgment notwithstanding verdict
  • Jx - Jurisdiction
  • K - Contract
  • L/C - Letter of credit
  • MOU - Memorandum of understanding
  • n/k/a - Now known as
  • No. - Number
  • Ors - Others
  • P - Page
  • Pet. - Petition
  • Pp. - Pages
  • Relv. - Relevant
  • s. - Section
  • sd - Said
  • SI - Statutory instruments
  • S/J - Summary judgment
  • v. - Versus
  • XXN - Cross-examination

People & Court Abbreviations

Even people and court systems get abbreviated in legal documents. It’s just easier to have everything in shorthand, especially for the stenographer. So that you know if you’re the “employee” or “employer,” review people and court term abbreviations.

  • atty - Attorney
  • BFP - Bona fide purchaser
  • DOA - Court of Appeals
  • EE - Employee
  • ER - Employer
  • GC - General counsel
  • J - Judge or Justice
  • JJ - Judges or Justices
  • LLC - Limited liability company
  • LLP - Limited liability partnership
  • Pet’r - Petitioner
  • Pl. - Plaintiff
  • Pls. - Plaintiffs
  • XN - Examination in chief
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Identifying Legal Abbreviations

There are resources available to help people determine the meaning of different legal abbreviations. Some of these resources include GovSpeak, a very extensive database of abbreviations and acronyms that are commonly used in the government.

There are also other very well known sources for legal abbreviations. They include The Bluebook, which is the very popular legal citation guide compiled by the professionals at the Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, Columbia Law Review and University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

Keeping Legal Abbreviations Straight

The Bluebook is an excellent resource for looking up legal abbreviations. However, it is a paid resource and is not normally available for free. Quick reference resources, like our list of legal abbreviations above, should help you get started, though. You can also check out Bluebook Abbreviations: Common Words in Case Names along with Federal and District Court Abbreviations if you are curious to know more.