Leading question: A leading question is one in which the question gives an indication of the answer. A “yes or no” question such as, “Were you confused when you received the collection letter?” is a good example of a leading question.

Because the question suggests the answer, asking leading questions of a witness on direct is usually not a good idea (and is in fact the appropriate basis of an objection by the other side). You can ask leading questions of a witness who is “hostile” to you – either appearing by subpoena unwillingly or for the other side when you are cross-examining.

Legal authority: Cases or statutes (laws written by the legislature) that say what the court should do in a given situation. The law places no premium on novelty or originality, so it will help your case if you can find another case like it where the judge did what you want your judge to do.

Liability: This is the fancy legal term for saying you owe somebody some money, but the money is not always established as a particular amount. An auto insurance claim is a liability against the insurer, but the amount is not necessarily clear.

Limited appearance: An appearance in a court for a specific and limited appearance, for example, to challenge whether there was adequate service of process.

Limiting instruction: An instruction to the jury to ignore something they have heard, or to treat it as evidence of one thing but not another.

Litigant: A party to a lawsuit.

Litigation: Another way to say lawsuit or legal proceedings.

Local rules: Specific rules which apply only to the court you are in. Local rules, for example, typically control how many interrogatories you may ask, and this number varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Local rules also will tell you what the judge wants from you in pretrial submissions or in various actions in front of that court.