Legal Locutions to Class Up Your Exam Writing

Honghu Wang (1L), with translations by the UV Editorial Board

Whereas the writers for Ultra Vires desire to help students complete their examinations with a style and verve which might showcase their most fulsome potential; and

Whereas the writers draw inspiration from cases past;

Therefore we present a brief guide containing phrases that you can drop on your way to an HHH, with translations provided for those who have not attended a British boarding school.

 

  • Now the boot is on the other foot.
    • (Your foot is going to hurt because boots are cut for specific feet.)
  • That is a distinction without a difference.
    • (The heaviest academic shade you can throw against a nitpicking argument.)
  • Carry the day.
    • (Sweeeeeeeeeet, sweet victoryyyy, ya.)
  • Intimated
    • (Getting your point across without really “going there,” not to be mistaken for intimidated.)
  • It doesn’t lie in your mouth to say…
    • (Shut up and let me talk…)
  • My learned brother.
    • (This asshole over here.)
  • With respect.
    • (Fuck you.)
  • …, without more, …
    • (This argument should not have been advanced.)
  • Shocks the conscience of the court.
    • (Wash your hands—they’re dirty.)
  • Inter alia
    • (A subgenre of Tropicália, the 1960s Brazilian art movement.)
  • Ex ante
    • (She was your aunt until she and your uncle split up.)
  • Ex post facto
    • (She was your post facto until she and your ipso split up.)
  • &c
    • (I’m so busy and important that I can’t even be bothered to write out “etc.”)
  • Viz
    • (Lookit that.)
  • A priori knowledge.
    • (You knew what you were getting into.)
  • This party is now trying to have his cake and eat it too.
    • (Nobody came to my birthday.)
  • Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
    • (Throw them out separately.)
  • While the ship of state now sails on larger ventures and into foreign waters she still retains the watertight compartments which are an essential part of her original structure.
    • (Antonin Scalia was right.)
  • Our Constitution is a living tree which, by way of progressive interpretation, accommodates and addresses the realities of modern life.
    • (We’re really just making this up as we go along.)
  • The length of the Chancellor’s foot.
    • (As opposed to the length of his [redacted].)
  • Enter contracts with eyes wide open.
    • (Always drop acid before any big negotiation.)
  • Liability in an indeterminate amount for an indeterminate time to an indeterminate class.
    • (You’re going to lose your shirt.)
  • Straws in the wind.
    • (I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.)
  • Donning the cloak of a soothsayer to plumb the intent of the legislature.
    • (Who the hell knows what those commoners are really thinking.)
  • Sounding like Molly Bloom’s eulogy in the final chapter of Ulysses.
    • (I am very smart and I have definitely read all of Ulysses.)
  • Do indirectly what you can’t do directly.
    • (How I got my Panamanian pass-through corporation set up.)
  • What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
    • (Translation lost to the ages. What kind of weirdo feeds sauce to geese?)
  • In summertime village cricket is the delight of everyone.
    • (It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune, must be in want of a cricket game.)