Law in Popular Culture

'Complicit bias' and 'lawfare' among top new legal terms in 2022

  • Print

Burton's Legal Thesaurus

A copy of Burton’s Legal Thesaurus from 2017. Photo by B4burton, CC-BY-SA-4.0, via Wikimedia commons.

“Complicit bias” tops a list of new legal terms and expressions in 2022 compiled by law professors and academics who are on a committee for Burton’s Legal Thesaurus.

Law360 has a story on the top new terms and their meanings. According to the story, “complicit bias” refers to “an institution or community’s complicity in sustaining discrimination and harassment.”

Law360 listed 10 top legal terms, including these:

    • “Computational law” or “complaw,” which refers to the field of automated legal reasoning.

    • The “Great Reshuffle,” a variation of “Great Resignation,” referring to people leaving jobs.

    • “Lawfare,” meaning the use of legal proceedings to damage an adversary.

    • The “major questions doctrine,” which says courts should not defer to agency statutory interpretations on questions of “vast economic or political significance.” The doctrine was mentioned in a U.S. Supreme Court decision finding that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency didn’t have broad power to regulate climate change under the Clean Air Act.

    • “Movement law,” an approach to legal scholarships that works with social movements, rather than simply studying them.

    • “Synthetic identity fraud,” in which a criminal uses real and fake information to create a new identity with the ability to open fraudulent accounts and make purchases, according to Investopedia.

Margaret Wu, a legal writing professor at the University of California at Berkely School of Law, is chair of the Select Committee on Terminology of Burton’s Legal Thesaurus.

Among the influences affecting legal vocabulary, Wu told Law360, are the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, “sea changes” at the Supreme Court, diversity and equity initiatives and technology.

Top new legal terms last year included “cleaned up,” “I am not a cat” and “blank check company,” according to a Law360 story published at the time.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.