If there is an exact outcome I am hoping for, in specifically a legal context, but where I'm not necessarily either suing or defending or appealing or prosecuting (but where I am devoting resources and making decisions in the direction of a wanted outcome), what would you call that? Perhaps "making a case", but is there a single word which also carries the idea of the effort involved?

Approximate or woolly example sentences might be:

I'm keeping a diary of these events just in case. Doing that will be part of the case I'm _____ for.


... the case I'm _______ to make|prove|demonstrate

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    devoting resources and making decisions in the direction of a wanted outcome sounds much like 'managing' or 'directing' to me, but I suppose that isn't particularly helpful in a legal context. Different industries will have different terms for the same general function - e.g. 'producing' in the movie industry.
    – Charl E
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 12:08
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    @CharlE I was thinking of "underwriting", that may work too.
    – BruceWayne
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 13:38
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    Please provide a sample sentence where the word you seek is left blank.
    – Dan
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 16:06
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    @Dan Asking me that revealed I had some fuzzy thinking about how the sentence should be constructed.
    – Stewart
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 16:19
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    Just checking: do the activities involve someone connected to the case, or are you simply making preparations of your own in anticipation of the outcome? E.g. if BigCo sues AnotherBigCo for violating BigCo's monopoly on web browsers (for argument's sake), are you doing something with BC/ABC, or are you independent of both and instead (say) gearing up your own web browser to hit the market in anticipation that the monopoly gets struck down in the course of the proceedings? The title of your question suggests the former but the question text admits the latter.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 10:39

3 Answers 3


Burton's Legal Thesaurus has definitions for pursue which might fit what you are looking for.

strive to gain; seek to attain, etc...

The Washington State Association of Counties has recently decided to move forward on pursuing legal action

County leaders frustrated with the unfunded mandates and lack of support coming out of Olympia have authorized the Washington State Association of Counties to explore legal action against the State.

In a recent famous case involving Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos Inc. a Judge ruled that Theranos investors cannot pursue class action. More information about the ruling here.

You would however need to change your example sentences to make pursue/pursuing grammatically correct in the context.

After you have started proceedings, perhaps crusade will be more appropriate

to make an effort to achieve something that you believe in strongly:

She crusaded against sex and violence on television.

Risking it all on a legal crusade which appeared in the LA Times describes a story about a lawyer who did all in his power to get a corrupt judge disbarred.

There is also the word


[ I/T ] law To argue is also to represent the case of someone in a court of law.

but it doesn't necessarily convey the effort involved to "make the case"

  • "argue a case" is good, but I wanted to describe something more preliminary. "crusade" is good for something more long-term, or affecting many people.
    – Stewart
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 16:49
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    @Stewart what about pursuing?
    – bookmanu
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 17:03
  • I love pursuing! It is a stronger word than prepare suggested by @brucewayne but retains all of the other meaning. It doesn't fit literally into the example sentences I gave above - I should have noted they were woolly, approximate example. This can be used in phrases such as, "I'm pursuing full admission of liability." or "I'm pursuing this with my MP." Post it as a separate answer, and I'll accept.
    – Stewart
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 4:16
  • @Stewart Thanks. I decided to edit my answer to avoid cluttering the site :)
    – bookmanu
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 10:11
  • Accepting because "pursue" is what I'm after. It's like "prepare" from @BruceWayne but more active
    – Stewart
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 20:53

What about simply "prepare"/"prep"?

  1. To organize or plan in advance. 2. To correct an issue or make it ready for use.


I'm keeping a diary of these events just in case. Doing that will be part of the case I'm preparing for.

Hulk Hogan's personal attorney, David Houston, demands Gawker remove the...tape ...Gawker initially refuses, prompting Hogan to hire additional lawyers and prepare a lawsuit. Source

Here, the lawyers haven not filed a suit, are not prosecuting, appealing, defending, etc. Nothing in the legal system has been done yet - they're simply preparing for a suit. But it does necessarily mean that work is being done, and it's understood you/the firm are devoting resources and making decisions toward a wanted outcome. (I don't think many people will think one prepares for legal cases in a direction of an unwanted outcome).

While it doesn't convey explicitly that there is an "exact outcome" you're hoping for, that can be assumed in the context you use the phrase.

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    I like this. It conveys intention, but is non-committal. It is strong, but conveys mainly administrative activity, not some vigilantism or other inappropriate activity. It definitely fits "legal context" but could be a defence or a prosecution or an appeal.
    – Stewart
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 16:47

Since you are getting ready for a case you think might happen, you can say that you are making preparations in anticipation of the lawsuit.

anticipation noun 1 The action of anticipating something; expectation or prediction. ‘they manned the telephones in anticipation of a flood of calls’ - ODO

Here are a couple of examples in print in this sense of 'doing things before an expected lawsuit':

  • This is good, but I wanted something conveying aggressiveness also. "Offensive spirit in defence" kind of thing ....
    – Stewart
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 20:52
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    @Stewart Thanks for the feedback. Those nuances should be noted in the question.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 23:36
  • You're right, they should. I apologise. But it's been the act of asking and the responses I got that brought that out in me. When I first asked, I didn't know what I wanted, and didn't know that I didn't know, if that makes sense. I just had this feeling that I wanted to describe and was lost for how to articulate that.
    – Stewart
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 4:11
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    @Stuart No problem, and no apology needed. Stack Exchange is all about building reference repositories, so editing to clarify questions is very much encouraged - even after you’ve got the answers you’re looking for. There’s normally an expectation that the revisions don’t invalidate answers, but in this case - go ahead and make the question what you now know you wanted to ask. There’s a revision history, so you don’t even need to place updates in separate paragraphs. Enjoy your time with us at EL&U! :)
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 4:18

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