If You Get 29/35 on This Quiz, You Could Possibly Fake Your Way As a Lawyer


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Chris Ryan/OJO Images/Getty Image

About This Quiz

Calling all lovers of "L.A. Law" and "Boston Legal"! If you're the armchair attorney in your circle of friends, then we've got a quiz for you! Pull up to the counsel's table and prepare to make your case. 

As with some of our medical quizzes, a working knowledge of Latin will go a long way. A great number of legal terms are not just "based," in Latin, they're actual Latin - consider "amicus curiae" or "nolo contendere." However, the American legal system doesn't have its roots in the law of ancient Rome, but in British common law. Also very important are the precedents set by rulings made by US judges in American cases. Law students spend hours upon hours studying these cases. So, clearly, the law is a living, changing thing. You can probably name some of the most famous rulings: These include "Roe v. Wade" and "Miranda v. Arizona." (The latter one you're familiar with if you watch cop shows, not just legal dramas - it'll come up in this quiz).

So, even if you're sure you'll never take the bar exam and get a license to practice, you can still test your skills against our quiz. No sharp suit required; just a sharp mind!

What does "case law" refer to?

"Case law" is the body of existing rulings that judges rely on in their current rulings. Law students spend a great deal of time learning case law.


Which of the following might be seized?

"Assets" are a property that has value and comes into play in divorce and other civil cases. But, as anyone who's had to find parking near a courthouse knows, parking spaces might get seized, as well!


Which of these are the two main types of cases in Anglo-American law?

Court cases fall into two main categories: civil and criminal. The other categories are also existing ones, but not the big two.


If you believe your client is innocent, would you enter an "innocent" plea?

The two options are "guilty" or "not guilty." Essentially, the latter means "innocent." So why not just say that? Largely because there are cases where a client might not have entirely clean hands, but doesn't rise to the level of being guilty - so where "innocent" might be too strong a term, "not guilty" fits.


Which of these means "I will not dispute the charge"?

The humor columnist Dave Barry once wrote that "nolo contendere" is Latin for "Can I pay by check?" In truth, "nolo" is Latin for "I wish not," and "contendere" means "to dispute or argue."


If evidence is "sub rosa," what is it?

This comes from a time when secret documents were kept under a wax seal with a rose imprint. Therefore, highly-sensitive evidence is "under the rose."


What is the purpose of an "appellate" court?

"Appellate" is derived from the word "appeals." An appellate court upholds or overturns the rulings of lower courts.


What is the name of the warning that every arrested person must be read?

The name came from a criminal defendant, Ernesto Miranda, who signed a confession without being advised of his right to a lawyer. Adding insult to injury, the police added a clause to his typed confession which said (supposedly in Miranda's words) that he made the statement with full knowledge of his legal rights.


What does a "bench trial" not have?

A bench trial is one in which the judge decides on matters of fact, not just of law. In a jury trial, the jurors decide on facts, but they judge on law. This means that jurors decide whether there's sufficient evidence that an accused robber was, in fact, in the house after midnight. But the judge has to determine whether the evidence was admissible.


A capital offense is one punishable by what?

You probably know this word better as part of "capital punishment." While 31 US states have a death penalty, 19 have made it illegal.


When a judge meets with parties privately, he/she usually meets with them ______.

"Chambers" is just a formal word for "in his/her office." Meeting in chambers offers stricter privacy than a meeting at the bench, which is still in the courtroom.


Which of these might result in a bench warrant?

Bench warrants arise from failure to appear in court, or failure to pay money owed via a legal obligation. Child support and a speeding fine both count as the latter.


If you're dealing with "Chapter 11," what kind of case are you part of?

Chapter 11, Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 all refer to sections of the Bankruptcy Code. This allows businesses and individual to reorganize and pay off some debt without being permanently ruined. At least, that's the intention.


If you are "second chair" in a case, you are a ______.

This is a casual term, not one found in legal dictionaries. TV dramas about lawyers often use the term "second chair," for the junior or less experienced lawyer trying a case.


What does the term "court" mean?

The most common use is #3. But in formal documents, a judge may refer to himself as "the court": That is, "The court agrees to hear the rest of the arguments on the following day."


A judge or jury's official decision is called a ...

Judges make smaller decisions, too. But the big ones that bring a civil or criminal case to its conclusion, whether reached by a jury or a judge, are called "verdicts."


True or false: "Voir dire" is Latin for "to speak truth."

This was a trick question. "Voir dire" does mean "to speak truth," but in French.


Evidence that indicates a defendant's guilt is called what?

The root "-culp" has to do with guilt (as in "mea culpa"). So "inculpatory" indicates guilt, while "exculpatory" indicates lack thereof.


What is the "voir dire" process part of?

As we learned elsewhere in this quiz, "voir dire" means "to speak truth." It refers to potential jurors being truthful about potential conflicts or biases when they are questioned by attorneys from both sides.


Which of these means "friend of the court"?

Again, Latin comes into play here. "Curiae" means "of the court"; "juris" would mean "of the law."


What is the point of an "amicus curiae" brief?

Amicus curiae briefs provide information, often by experts, to the court. They might have a certain interest in the final outcome, but are not part of either side of the case at hand.


In a civil case, which side carries the burden of proof?

The plaintiff must show that he or she has suffered damages. It is possible in a civil case for the plaintiff to lose, which doesn't mean that they were not injured somehow, but there just wasn't sufficient evidence to show it.


What is the name for a person who brings a civil suit to court?

"Plaintiff" comes to us from middle English, like "sheriff." It is related to the word "complaint," which is, in fact, the document a plaintiff files.


The opposite of a "plaintiff" is what?

"Defendant" is a term shared by both criminal and civil law. They might well be "despondent" too, if they don't think they can win the case.


True or false: In a criminal case, the state carries the burden of proof.

In other words, criminal cases are like civil cases. But it's the state that is the plaintiff, and the outcome is not (usually) financial; instead, freedom or incarceration hang in the balance.


If your defense is "pro se," who is your lawyer?

You probably know the old chestnut about a lawyer who defends himself having "a fool for a client." The Latin way of expressing it is much shorter, and less judgmental.


If a judge has recused herself, what has she done?

Recusal happens for several reasons. Often, it's a conflict of interest: for example, the judge knows a plaintiff or defendant personally.


Which of these might be "emancipated"?

Children under 18, but over a certain age (often 16) can be freed from parental guardianship if they can prove a source of income and sufficient ability to handle their own affairs. We've known some dogs that are smart enough to be emancipated, but there is no legal procedure for this!


During deliberations, a jury is ______.

Sequestration means that the jury has privacy in which to discuss the case. During that time, and throughout the trial, they are required to avoid media coverage the case.


A demand to appear in court is called a ...

This is literally Latin for "under punishment." It means that the person called must appear or suffer some kind of legal penalty.


Who keeps order in a courtroom?

The judge presides over the courtroom, and his or her authority is supposed to be sufficient to keep people in line. But when things get downright physical, a bailiff steps in.


What is the name for a trial so flawed there is no ruling?

You might consider it a fiasco, but the official name is "mistrial." When this happens, the case must be tried again.


The rule that a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime is called _______.

Fun fact: "Double Jeopardy" was an absurd 90s movie in which a woman falsely convicted of killing her husband supposedly has carte blanche to kill him (he's alive and living under another name, having set her up for his "murder.") Legal experts hurried to say that in this situation, the original murder conviction would be vacated. True double jeopardy ensures that the state cannot harass a citizen by trying them over and over on (presumably unfounded) charges.


Which of these would be a reason for a change of venue?

Trials receive a change of venue when media coverage has been so intense that there is little chance of impaneling a jury that hasn't formed an opinion of the case yet. Often, venue changes mean moving to another county.


What does a libel case generally involve?

Libel is a falsehood or falsehoods that damages someone's reputation. It must be written or recorded. If it's only spoken, it is referred to as "slander."


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!