I generally consider myself a fluent English reader. I can read The New York Times or the latest Harry Potter novel without difficulty, but I sometimes have trouble with so called "Legalese", the form of English in which contracts, legal pleadings, statutes, and court orders are written in.

Are there any good resources to move beyond just reading general English to mastering the Legal English heretofore enumerated under the applicable terms and conditions without respect to conflict of law principles, to wit, with statutory penalties as may be ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction post hoc, all rights reserved with respect to and in full compliance with aforementioned statutory registration requirements as may have been issued under penalty of disbarment ab initio?

To be clear, I know that one way is to go to law school, but that is expensive and includes training on the professional practice of law. I'm more looking for a less-expensive resource that will allow me to actually understand all the mumbo-jumbo on the back of my airline ticket or the pamphlet that came with my car's warranty.

Books and software are especially appreciated. In other words, I'm looking for a "Hooked on Phonics Legal Edition: Void Where Prohibited, You Must Read, Understand, and Agree to the Terms and Conditions, Exciting Lessions for the Party of the First Part ("Customer") Under Know-Your-Customer Requirements".


  • It's assumed that going to law school is one option, but the purpose of this question is to identify options that are less expensive and/or less time consuming than a full, accredited, formal law school education.
  • Resources that cost money are acceptable (e.g. buy this book, buy this $7.99 Hooked on Legalese XD 2021 app on the App Store, enroll in this six month Legal Literacy Course at the Institute of Adult Practical Education in Des Moines, etc.) as long as they are less expensive than going to law school.
  • The typical advice to have my lawyer read and explain to me all legal documents I am given is one possible life solution, but the point of my question is to build my own independence - that is, where I can read and understand legal documents on my own and only consult a lawyer when actually going to court.

1 Answer 1


Start by writing summaries of legal agreements you encounter. Try writing a plain English sentence for every paragraph of legalese. This will force you to actually process the text you're reading and really understand it conceptually, since that's what you need to do in order to give a brief summary of its meaning.

Some legal agreements have a full legalese text next to a more human readable summary. Try summarizing the agreement yourself and comparing it to the provided summary to check your work.

Depending on what your goals for understanding are, other accessible resources include laws and court proceedings. You can often find public records of these. Search for some online and summarize them. Compare your summaries to other people's summaries, such as Wikipedia articles.

You can also write your own legal agreements from scratch. Try writing a rental agreement for example and then compare your agreement with sample rental agreements found online.

Along the way you'll encounter many words and phrases you won't understand, Dictionaries and free online resources should be satisfactory in defining all of these.

  • @downvoter, is there a way I can improve my answer? or can you give a better one?
    – intcreator
    Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 20:55

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