Names Applied to Actors/Concepts in Law by Academia

Legal academia loves to utilize names as signifiers and placeholders. Aimed at facilitating material to law students, each subject has developed its own set of names and phrases sometimes used as placeholders other times for complex phrases. A few instances below.

Property: Blackacre, Whiteacre, Greenacre, Brownacre.

Dukeminier traces the theories of the use of these terms in his textbook, Property:

One of the earliest law treatises written in English, Coke on Littleton (1628), refers to Blackacre and Whiteacre. The OED suggests the terms indicate lands growing different crops (peas and beans are black, corn and potatoes are white, hay is green). Or ther terms might originally have referred to lands receiving different rents (black rents are payable in produce, white rents in silver).

Community Property & Family Law: Henry and Wilma//Herb and Wanda//Howard and Wendy

As you can imagine these take the place of husband and wife, although it’s not uncommon to see same-sex name pairings come up when studying community property law in California.

Real Estate Law: “The deed is done” and “Bite the dust.”

Apparently, both of these phrases come from old real estate common law. The deed is done means that the obligation securing the piece property has been completed and so the deed of trust will be disposed of.

Evidence: Hearsay

Rather than saying “an out-of-court statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted” lawyers and law students and anyone really can just say heresay. It’s a simple word for a very complex doctrine.

Generally: Paul and Dwayne//Phil and Duke//Peter and David//Pauline and Dawn

As Plaintiff and Defendant make up most law problems students face, they will inevitably encounter some variation on “P” and “D” names.

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