What are Form Books?
The practice of law involves the use of forms. There is a certain expected format to be used for both transactional and litigation documents and filings. In a nutshell, this means that all complaints will look similar to other complaints; all leases will look similar to other leases, all business filings look similar etc. But when you have to draft something for a court filing or a client, remember you that don’t have to start from scratch. That’s what form books are for! They are a great starting point to see what is expected and acceptable to courts and what others have used before you. Some of them will be in print, but others you will be able to access online.
Form books can be intimidating at first because there are so many different kinds of them, but if you remember a couple of things, you will be a pro at using them in no time. Form books generally fall into two umbrella categories:
- Transactional forms matters such as estate planning, contract drafting and business incorporation
- Litigation forms to draft complaints, interrogatories, motions and other trial-related documents
In addition, there are all different types of form books beneath the “Transactional / Litigation Umbrella”. There are general form books, form books for federal practice, state-specific form books, and form books by subject. The forms are a great help, but remember you still will need to tailor them to the jurisdiction you are in and to the facts of your particular case.
General Form Books
These form books give you the ‘big picture”. They have broad coverage and are annotated with cross references to legal encyclopedias, like AmJur and CJS. If you are using them in print, they will be updated with supplements and pocket parts for new forms and changes to the law. Some good ones to try are:
- AmJur Legal Forms which cover general transactional legal topics like partnerships, contracts and leases and can be found on Westlaw or in the reference section of the library.
- AmJur Pleading and Practice which have sample litigation forms for complaints, answers and motions and can be found on Westlaw or in the reference section in the library.
- West’s Legal Forms which are arranged by topics like bankruptcy and business forms and can be found on Westlaw.
Federal Practice Form Books
These form books provide sample forms for use in proceedings before Federal Courts and some Administrative Agencies.
- Federal Procedural Forms available on Lexis.
- West’s Federal Forms available on Westlaw.
- Bender’s Federal Practice Forms available on Lexis.
- Formbooks by Subject (including topics such as tax, securities, and employment discrimination) Search discoverE to find what is available in the library.
Georgia Practice Form Books
Brown’s Georgia Pleading, Practice and Legal Forms Annotated is a widely used resource that is conveniently arranged via Official Code of Georgia (OCGA) Section. It is also available on Westlaw.
Ruskell’s Civil Pleading and Practice Forms is for use with West’s Official Code of Georgia Annotated and is arranged by West’s Code of Georgia Citation. This is available on Westlaw.
Georgia Civil Procedure Forms is arranged by sections of the Georgia Civil Practice Act and is available on Lexis as Georgia Civil Procedure Forms.
Handbook on Georgia Practice with Forms is available on Westlaw.
Georgia Litigation Forms and Analysis is available on Westlaw.
All Georgia Litigation Forms on Lexis by topic
Georgia Forms: Legal & Business has forms for on topics including contracts, estate planning and business enterprises and is available on Lexis.
Jurisdictional Form Books
Southeast Transaction Guide: Covers Florida, Georgia, Alabama; available on Lexis
West’s McKinney’s Forms (New York) available on Westlaw
Delaware Law of Corporations and Business Organizations: Text, forms and primary materials; available online via CCH Inteliconnect
Bender’s Forms for Civil Practice (New York available on Lexis)
There are also additional state form books on Lexis and Westlaw.
Subject-Specific Form Books
The list could be endless, but below are some examples of subject specific form books:
- Modern Real Estate: Practice Forms and Commentary (KF568.1 and online via Westlaw)
- Federal Income Taxation of Real Estate (Available on Westlaw)
- Murphy’s Will Clauses: Annotations and Forms with Tax Effects (Available on Lexis)
- Georgia Domestic Relation Forms
- Georgia Corporate Forms
- Daniel’s Georgia Criminal Trial Practice Forms
- Georgia Estate Planning, Will Drafting and Estate Administration Forms
Freely Available Online Forms
You can get forms online, but it is hard to find any free ones. Most are proprietary and you will be expected to pay for them. You also need to use them with caution and check for their authority, currency and jurisdiction. You can get forms online via Lexis’ “Transactional Advisor” and “Total Litigator” from Westlaw, Findlaw, the Internet Legal Research Group, the Public Library of Law and the Washlaw Forms link. You can sometimes find them on county websites, such as the DeKalb Family Law Center and the Dougherty County Law Library.