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LRAC Legal Research Class Site

Practice Materials

Practice materials are a subset of secondary sources. Whereas many secondary sources explain the law on a more hypothetical level, practice materials provide instructions, checklists, and forms to help with the actual practice of law - filing complaints, drafting contracts, etc.

Practice Materials Example

American Jurisprudence Proof of Facts 3d is an example of a practice material source.

It contains detailed information of how to handle a variety of specific legal problems. It explains the potential causes of actions/defenses and provides practitioner checklists, sample pleadings, sample interrogatories, etc.

Example - 85 Am. Jur. Proof of Facts 3d 1

Legal Forms

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."*

This is true in the legal world too! So, try not to draft a single word of a petition or contract without looking in a form book (or other source) to find some legal forms someone else has already written.

*According to Google this is from the Bible... 

Types of Forms

  • Transactional forms are used in transactional legal practice
    • Examples - sample contracts, leases, wills, deeds, and trusts
  • Litigation forms are used in litigation
    • Examples - sample petitions, motions, discovery requests, and briefs

Forms can be specific to a jurisdiction or for general use (in which case you have to adapt them to your jurisdiction).

Examples of Legal Forms

Transactional Legal Form Example

You represent a seller of horsies and the seller wants a bill of sale which provides a warranty about the ability of a stallion to reproduce. Without a great deal of experience in the area, most lawyers would have no idea how to phrase this type of warranty.

You could look at a form book such as American Jurisprudence Legal Forms (available in print and on Westlaw) to find a sample form such as the one below.

Litigation Legal Form Example

Sadly, you have a new client who was hit by a boat while swimming! You could look at a sample complaint from American Jurisprudence Pleading and Practice Forms Annotated (available in print and on Westlaw).

 

Sources of Legal Forms

There are many many sources of legal forms!

Non-Jurisdiction Specific Forms

Jurisdiction Specific Forms

Court Web Sites

  • Many court websites offer sample and statutory forms that attorneys and the self represented can use
  • Arizona, for example, has a number of forms for divorce, name changes, civil actions, etc. for the different counties

Form Banks

  • Since law firms and organizations are often involved in the same type of litigation or transactions over and over again, they have their own form banks

Free Forms

Docket Filings

Use Forms Wisely!!

Sample forms are very useful and save lots of time but can't be used to avoid THINKING or actual WORK

  • Look at them as a great place to start
    • You might want to look at multiple sample forms to get ideas
    • Does your sample form comply with the specific law of your jurisdiction (a California lease might not be appropriate for Arizona)?
    • Is there a required statutory form for your jurisdiction?
    • Is your sample form from a reliable author or publisher?
    • Does your form comply with court rules?
    • How have clauses/language in your sample form been interpreted by courts?
    • What type of forms/clauses are standard in the industry?
    • Is your form up-to-date or has the law change?

Remember that reliance on a sample form/sample language could result in losing your client's money, losing a case, and legal malpractice…so remember that sample forms are just a place to START.