In Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty proclaims to Alice, “’When I use a word . . . it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’” Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll 214 (Random House 1940). Alice was right to be skeptical—Humpty Dumpty was wrong. A word communicates only the meaning that the listener gives to that word—the meaning in the speaker’s mind is irrelevant. Like Humpty Dumpty, we and our clients use many terms that we consider well understood, but often these terms don’t communicate much useful information to the listener. The term net lease is a perfect example. It means a great many things, and a lawyer must break the actual deal into its pieces to put together the intended transaction.
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