“Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary” by the Editors of Nolo, Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen Thompson Hill is promoted as, “This is ‘not’ your grandfather’s law dictionary.” This law dictionary is written in clear English and contains compete definitions of legal terms you need today.
As an attorney, this book will not replace my “Black’s Law Dictionary” which is the standard for legal dictionaries, but this lighter, plain-English text is very convenient to have on hand. For most people, this text is all they would need when wondering about a legal term.
To illustrate the differences in dictionaries, let’s look at the word “partner.” Most of us know what it means, and it is a common word that we use in business all the time. The definition in “Nolo’s” is:
“One of the co-owners and investors in a partnership. Each partner claims a share of the the (sic) business’s income or losses on the partner’s individual tax return. General partners are responsible for the debts, contracts, and actions of all the partners in the business. Limited partners do not share responsibility for partnership debts and cannot share in management decisions.” (Note that I found a typo in the definition noted with the (sic)).
“Black’s” provides much more under the listing of “partner.”
“A member of partnership or firm; one who has united with others to form a partnership in business.” The there are definitions for each of the following: Dormant partners, full or general partner, junior partner, limited partner, liquidating partner, nominal partner, ostensible partner, quasi partner, secret partner, silent partner, special partner, and surviving partner.
“Black’s” contains much more than “Nolo’s,” but that is what you expect, and for most people who are not attorneys, “Black’s” has much more than is needed, and is not as easy to understand as “Nolo’s.” The size and cost of the books is very different too. “Black’s is a very large and heavy book, and much more expensive. “Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary” is smaller, paperback, easier to grab off the shelf or take with you, and costs less.
If you would like an easy to understand law dictionary, full of the most common terms non-lawyers will most likely need, this book will be a very good addition to your reference library.