Thursday, January 19, 2012

PERTAINING TO CONCLUSIONS FOR OVER 160 YEARS: According to Random House, "conclusory" has been a word since approximately 1840-1850. State court judges in the United States began using the word in 1908. In re Canakos, 111 N.Y.S. 601, 601 (Sup. Ct. App. Term 1908). Federal judges began using it in 1942. Guth v. Groves, 44 F. Supp. 851, 853 (S.D.N.Y. 1942). Now judges use it all the time -- in 943 cases reported in 2012 alone (according to a Lexis search), or in over 78 cases per work day, excluding court holidays. Because judges use the word "conclusory" when they define or make law, lawyers also have to use the word, though they don't need much coaxing. Lawyers use "conclusory" like bakers use flour.

Microsoft Word is the dominant word processing software used by lawyers. Microsoft Word has had spell-check since at least 1995.

According to Lexis, there are more than 3000 reported decisions* in which Microsoft is a party and the word "conclusory" appears in the text of the decision.

So why does Microsoft spell-check still stubbornly refuse to accept "conclusory" as a word?


  1. Joseph Finn9:42 PM

    I noticed today that I had to teach Chrome some very common words for people bigoted againt people of a certain orientation, which really surprised me.

  2. MS Word/Outlook also does not recognize "registrable," which I have to use regularly in briefs/e-mails.  First judicial use appears to be 1920 in the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (basically, what is now the Federal Circuit).  Random House doesn't have a separate entry for "registrable," but "register" dates back to 1350-1400.

  3. spacewoman10:11 PM

    Yes.  YES! And it's so annoying!!

  4. isaac_spaceman10:12 PM

    That is a conclusory statement.

  5. Right click on the improperly red-lined word. Select "add to dictionary." You're welcome.

  6. Just curious, especially for those of you working in larger offices -- you have added custom dictionaries for your legal and latin jargon, right?

  7. I totally concur.  I mean, just about every responsive pleading asserts that the other side's argument is conclusory, right?  (I generally try to avoid Latin in my advocacy, but I do like using the term "ipse dixit" occasionally.)

    By the way:  What's the footnote (after "decisions" involving Microsoft?

  8. bristlesage10:48 AM

    I have to think it considers it jargon--I was surprised when it didn't recognize "lede" for that reason. And regular people use that word in a common phrase ("burying the lede")!  Though they often misspell it.  Of course.

  9. Anonymous11:35 AM

    I try to avoid common lawyerisms, the trite phrases that look as if they're inserted from a drop-down menu (we've talked about "fatally flawed" here, for example).  But how can one avoid "conclusory"?  It's part of the governing legal standards for so many different things.  It is a word, and it is the word the courts basically tell us to use, and no other word means exactly the same thing.

    Yes, I have put it into my custom dictionary.  I am just offended that I've had to do this every time I got a new computer or upgraded my Word since I became a law student 17 years ago. 

    Incidentally, it's not jargon, since it was a word for 50 years before it was picked up by the legal community.  It's jargon the way that "connectivity" or "broadband" are jargon, but you wouldn't see Microsoft squiggly-lining those. 

  10. Squid2:25 PM

    Forget adding new words to the dictionary -- sometimes the ones you take out are way more important.  Let's just say that when you work in Public Finance, there's a certain term dealing with the anterior of the pelvis that you really, really want Word to highlight.

  11. As a telecom lawyer, my pleadings are likely to contain all of those terms together!

  12. Adam C.5:07 PM

    As a pub<span>L</span>ic interest lawyer, I have seen that mistake made many times in documents.  Fortunately not by me (yet?), but I do always feel bad for the lawyer who relied on spell check instead of proofreading when it comes to that particular gaffe.  And then I laugh, because I am a 12-year-old at heart.