A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
labor certification
A required procedure for many foreign nationals who have a job offer from a U.S. employer. In many cases, a job offer alone is not enough to qualify a potential immigrant for a green card. First, the employer must prove that there are no qualified U.S. workers available and willing to take the job. To do so, the employer must turn to the U.S. Department of Labor for a labor certification.
landlord
The owner of any real estate, such as a house, apartment building or land, that is leased or rented to another person, called the tenant.
Lanham Act
The main federal statute governing trademarks, service marks and unfair competition. Its two basic purposes are to eliminate deception and unfair competition in the marketing of goods and services, and to protect marks against the use of confusingly similar marks by others.
lapse
Under a will, the failure of a gift of property. A gift lapses when the beneficiary dies before the person who made the will, and no alternate has been named. Some states have anti-lapse statutes, which prevent gifts to relatives of the deceased person from lapsing unless the relative has no heirs of his or her own. A lapsed gift becomes part of the residuary estate.
larceny
Another term for theft. Although the definition of this term differs from state to state, it typically means taking property belonging to another with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. If the taking is non forceful, it is larceny; if it is accompanied by force or fear directed against a person, it is robbery, a much more serious offense.
lawful issue
Formerly, statutes governing wills used this phrase to specify children born to married parents, and to exclude those born out of wedlock. Now, the phrase means the same as issue and "lineal descendant."
lease
An oral or written agreement (a contract) between two people concerning the use by one of the property of the other. A person can lease real estate (such as an apartment or business property) or personal property (such as a car or a boat). A lease should cover basic issues such as when the lease will begin and end, the rent or other costs, how payments should be made, and any restrictions on the use of the property. The property owner is often called the "lessor," and the person using the property is called the "lessee."
lease option
A contract in which an owner leases her house (usually for one to five years) to a tenant for a specific monthly rent, and which gives the tenant the right to buy the house at the end of the lease period for a price established in advance. A lease option is often a good arrangement for a potential home buyer because it lets him move into a house he may buy without having to come up with a down payment or financing at that time.
legacy
An outdated legal word meaning personal property left by a will. The more common term for this type of property is bequest. Compare devise.
legal action
See action.
legal custody
The right and obligation to make decisions about a child's upbringing, including schooling and medical care. Many states typically have both parents share legal custody of a child. Compare physical custody.
legal papers
Documents containing a statement of legal status, identity, authority or ownership, or providing evidence of some type of obligation. Such documents include wills, deeds, leases, titles, birth certificates , and contracts. Legal papers may also refer to documents, such as a complaint or summons, prepared in order to pursue a legal cause of action.
legal risk placement
A type of adoption used by agencies to keep a child out of foster care during the adoption process. The child is placed with the adopting parents before the birthmother has legally given up her rights to raise the child. If she then decides not to relinquish her rights, the adopting parents must give the child back. This is a risk for the adopting parents, who may lose a child to whom they've become attached.
legislative immunity
A legal doctrine that prevents legislators from being sued for actions performed and decisions made in the course of serving in government. This doctrine does not protect legislators from criminal prosecution, nor does it relieve them from responsibility for actions outside the scope of their office, such as the nefarious activities of former Senator Bob Packwood.
lemon
A car that gives you serious trouble soon after you buy it. To qualify under state "lemon laws," the defect must be substantial and must occur within a certain time or mileage period, usually 12,000 miles or one year. You usually have the option of getting a refund or a replacement vehicle for a lemon, though you may have to go to arbitration or court to exercise this option.