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Lawyers, and support staff who work for them, must prepare and file pleadings with various courts on a regular basis. Many are standard pleadings that are used by all lawyers and all courts. For pleadings such as these, lawyers often make use of a form book. A form book is a book that contains standard pleadings that may be reproduced and personalized for the particular case the lawyer is working on.
Pleadings, in legal terms, include motions, orders, complaints, and petitions, among other documents. In many areas of the law, these pleadings remain essentially the same from one case to the next. The only substantial difference is that the names of the parties, name of the court, or case number will change. A legal form book, therefore, is an excellent tool for a lawyer to use when preparing standard pleadings such as these.
Bankruptcy law is an example of where such a book may be helpful. Bankruptcy rules, in the United States, are federal in nature. Although each state has at least one bankruptcy court, they all follow the same rules and procedures. As such, bankruptcy forms are the same in all states. A bankruptcy case also requires a number of mandatory schedules and forms that may be easily organized and located in a form book.
Small claims cases are another example of when a form book may be useful. Although each small claims court may institute its own rules and procedures, the basic process remains the same. A complaint must be filed, the defendant must be served notice and a hearing must be set. A forms book will likely include sample pleadings for each of these stages of a small claims case.
Pleadings required for a divorce or dissolution case may also be found in a forms book. All divorces start when one party files a complaint or petition for divorce. While the facts of each case will be unique, the basic information required in the initial complaint or petition is similar in most jurisdictions. As in a small claims case, the respondent must then be notified of the complaint or petition. This generally requires a summons, which is a common document likely to be found in a legal form book.
Form books are not limited to use by an attorney. When a person wishes to proceed pro se, or without legal representation, he or she may wish to purchase a form book to help with the preparation of the necessary pleadings. Of course, the forms do not come with instructions, so a non-attorney should proceed with caution if attempting to use them.