Many times the most useful forms are those that you find within your own organization. These will reflect the local practice of the jurisdiction and of the organization itself. There are many creative places to look for forms! (See below.)
Your organization may have a formal or informal in-house databank of documents drafted in other matters, which you can use as forms. Often these are in computer databases, but may also be in paper archives.
Especially when you are new to a law firm or legal organization, you should check some recent forms before you begin drafting a new type of document, even if you think you know what you’re doing. You may pick up local styles, conventions, or other quirks that you would otherwise miss.
Don’t forget to look in the file of the matter for which you’re drafting the document. Frequently someone has already drafted a similar document for that very matter.
One of the best resources for forms is often someone who has recently drafted the same type of document you’re creating. Be sure to ask your colleagues for forms or ideas about where to find forms within your organization. It is frequently most useful to ask another associate – rather than a partner or very senior associate – because these are the attorneys who will be most involved with the initial drafting of documents. (Partners usually only have time to edit documents, so they have often forgotten where to start!)
Create a document databank of your own! Whenever you draft a legal document, keep a copy in an appropriately labeled electronic or paper forms file. The next time you need to draft a similar document, you’ll have your own good work to use as an exemplar. You’ll soon find that your own experience is the best example of all.
This guide was created by Michigan Law Librarians.
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