Research Tip: Your Friend, the Legal Form

Legal forms may be the unsung heroes of legal research, especially for people with limited legal practice experience.

Both Lexis and Westlaw have large libraries of legal forms that you can use as models for your own documents. Here a few examples of occasions where legal forms can help save you time and guide you in the right direction.

  • Have you been asked to draw up an employment agreement between a health care provider and a physical therapist? American Jurisprudence Legal Forms 2d in Westlaw has an example of one. It includes ideas for recitals covering responsibilities, compensation, travel, licensure, and much more.
  • Do you need to draw up a purchase and sale agreement for commercial real estate in California? There are multiple examples of various lengths of this type of form in the California Real Estate Standard Documents library in Westlaw’s Practical Law database.
  • Has your employer asked you to draft a HIPPA Breach Notice? The HIPPA Resource Kit in Lexis’s Practice Guidance database includes a model of just such a document.

Of course, many of the forms in Lexis and Westlaw have not just suggested language, but also notes about related legal provisions (including statutes, cases, and regulations). These brief explanations are written by experts in the practice area, providing busy attorneys with what they need to inform themselves about the relevant law quickly and easily.

American lawyers are not the only ones who use legal forms. The law library recently acquired the 15th edition of an important German legal form book, the Beck’sches Prozessformularbuch (HOLLIS record: This resource includes a wealth of examples, including court filings and client letters, that are useful in many areas of German civil practice. Each example is accompanied by observations (Anmerkungen) that are heavily annotated with citations to relevant German and EU legal provisions.

Note that this title is also available electronically through the Beck-Online subscription database. As with many sample forms and documents that are available in Westlaw and Lexis, Beck-Online allows the user to download them as Microsoft Word documents, which the user can edit and save on their own computer.

I have frequently found myself looking for a resource like this to answer German law research questions. Often, my preference is to page through a book, taking the time to read and process what I am finding. So I am thrilled that we now have an up-to-date copy of this resource on the shelf in our library collection.

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