Thanks to a client, with whom I was working through the terms of a new agreement (amicably, or so I thought), I learned a new word the other day. It presented itself in a sentence of otherwise unremarkable, albeit characteristically tortured (syntactically speaking) legalese:

The parties agree to attorn to the jurisdiction of the courts of [insert domicile of client here] for the conduct of any legal proceedings under, or related to, this Agreement.

And there it was, causing me to scamper off purposefully to

attorn [uh-turn]
verb (used without object)
1. to acknowledge the relation of a tenant to a new landlord.
(used with object)
2. to turn over to another; transfer.

That, in turn, led me to the derivation of another word:

1. a lawyer; attorney-at-law.
2. an attorney-in-fact; agent.

1250-1300: Middle English, from the French attourne, (one who is) turned to; i.e., appointed; past participle of attourner, to attorn

Because I’m a simple man, simple revelations like this delight me. In fact, so gleeful was I at the discovery of a new word that I neglected to heed the thinly veiled implication that I was now under threat of getting my shorts attorned off. Moreover and more unsettling, I was facing the prospect of facing all that attorning in a jurisdiction other than my own.

It would have driven a lesser man to paranoia, if not rampant bouts of feverish conspiracy theorizing. But not me.

Determined to make lemonade out of lemons, I quickly realized I could attorn the beat around. I ripped off a letter to my own attorney, letting him know it was at least possible we might have to attorn to the jurisdiction of other courts if things took attorn for the worse. He assured me that, in facing the two of us, any other jurisdiction would find itself with an uphill battle (litigiously speaking) if they let us take attorn.

Then, feeling quite pleased with myself, I queued up some Pink Floyd and listened to my favorite version of one my favorite songs: On the Attorning Away.

Turn it up really loud. Your day will definitely take attorn for the better.

Image by gamerio, courtesy of