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How To: Drafting Legal Documents: Formbooks

Tips for drafting legal documents for your law practice.

Guide Outline


  • Introduction
  • 'Just Show Me...'
  • For Further Reading...


  • About
  • General
  • Subject-Specific
  • Jurisdiction-Specific
  • Document-Specific

Court-Prepared & Online Forms

In-House Forms Resources

  • About
  • In-House Databank
  • The Matter File
  • Your Colleagues
  • Your Own Files

Need Help?

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About Formbooks

Formbooks contain sample legal forms, couched in standard, court-tested language. Forms usually appear in several alternatives, e.g., a long, detailed form and a short form. Many times, optional clauses are included that can be added to the basic form when appropriate.

Formbooks are typically multi-volume sets, arranged alphabetically by topic. Forms are accessed by using the index, usually contained in a separate volume, which will point the user to appropriate topics and sections.

Many formbooks include narrative text related to a topic, in addition to forms. Therefore, don’t forget to check formbooks as a secondary source!

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to determine the quality of a particular set of forms for a particular situation. Often the best way to do this is to ask someone with experience (why not a librarian?).

CAUTION: Formbooks are very useful sources for exemplars of legal documents. But they were not drafted with your unique legal situation in mind! Always exercise extreme caution when relying on a published form. Check and double-check that the form complies with the requirements and practices of your jurisdiction and your institution!