Out of class, school became an environment of legal talk, almost all of it well-spoken. I reported to Annette each night my general wonder at how enormously articulate everybody seemed. And people were beginning to inject that new vocabulary into their conversation, speaking Legal to each other. It was strange at first to hear classmates saying in the hallways, “Quaere if that position can be supported?” or employing Legal in other contexts—“Let me add a caveat” to mean “Let me give you a warning.” People were self-conscious about how oratorical and windy they sounded. They uttered a little hiccup or a laugh when they tried out their Legal, but most of us persisted, practicing on each other.
It was Nicky Morris who most neatly summed up what we were all trying to do in using legalisms. In the last meeting of Civil Procedure that week, a woman answered a question Morris had posed. “The court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the person,” she said.
“I’m not sure I know what that means,” Morris told the woman, “but I’m still glad to hear you talking that way. After all,” he said, “you can’t be a duck until you learn to quack.”
Turow, Scott. One L