Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Forms Fitting

Legal forms can be a time-saving template for any attorney, providing suggested language for the drafting of a contract or legal pleading. In some areas of practice, the use of certain forms may be required. The Goodson Law Library has just updated its research guide to Legal Forms, which provides information about locating forms in print and electronic formats. The Goodson Law Library maintains a collection of many major form book sets in print, including American Jurisprudence Legal Forms (a companion to the AmJur encyclopedia), West's Legal Forms, and Douglas' Forms (specific to North Carolina practice). Most of the general form sets can be found in the Practice & Procedure collection on Level 3; Douglas' Forms is located in the North Carolina Alcove on Level 2.

Krusty's Legal Forms, which is sadly not a real publication.
Credit: The Simpsons: The Last Temptation of Krust
(FOX television broadcast Feb. 22, 1998).

As the guide notes, members of the Duke Law community have additional access to form books as well as other form collections through the legal research services Bloomberg Law, Lexis Advance, and WestlawNext. Both WestlawNext and Lexis Advance include "Forms" as a browseable source category; in all three of these services, forms may also be found in the appendices of subject-specific treatises, or included with the text of legislative code or court rule publications. For example, the North Carolina General Statutes include a number of sample or required forms, such as N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-440.24, providing a template for notice of levy in a garnishment proceeding. The research guide does not attempt to include every topical publication in the library collection which contains forms, but does include instructions for locating potentially relevant subject treatises in the campus libraries' online catalog.

In addition to the library collection and Westlaw/Lexis/Bloomberg, LoislawConnect, available to the Duke University community, includes helpful sub-libraries of "Treatise Forms & Checklists," which cull available forms from the Wolters Kluwer treatise publications available within Loislaw. To view a list of forms in Loislaw on a particular subject, click the Forms & Checklist library sub-folder, then select "Display All Forms." (Forms in Loislaw can also be accessed by viewing the full text of a specific treatise publication, but this method is a handy way to display a list of all available forms within Loislaw on a topic.)

Legal researchers should be aware of potential differences between the print sets available in a library and how they are displayed online. For example, the library's print set of Douglas' Forms includes a 2009 supplement called Transactions in Turbulent Times, containing forms related to transactional law practice topics relevant to the economic difficulties of the late 2000s. When a researcher accesses Douglas' Forms on Lexis Advance, this supplemental volume does not appear in the table of contents browse. However, Transactions in Turbulent Times can be browsed and searched as a separate source in Lexis Advance by entering the title into the main search box or in the Browse Sources search box.

If you encounter issues with accessing legal forms in our research services, or need help identifying legal form publications, be sure to Ask a Librarian.