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Basic Legal Research

Introduction to Form Books and Online Forms

Image of legal form book setForm books, and online forms available through subscription services and elsewhere, provide sample documents for use in many areas of law. While useful to the practitioner, they are not intended to be used without modification.

  • The user must modify the document to conform to applicable law of the jurisdiction in which the document will be used.
  • The user must also be sure the information in the form is still current. Thus the law underlying the form (e.g., a statute) must be checked and updated to ensure the document conforms to current law.

Form books and online forms are available for many purposes.

  • Practice form sets will have samples of documents used in court filings, such as complaints, motions, responses, affidavits, etc.
  • Legal/Substantive form sets will have samples of documents such as wills, contracts, etc.
  • Discovery form sets will contain material that can be used in the discovery process such as sample interrogatories (questions).

Form books and online forms can be jurisdiction-specific or generally applicable.

  • Practice forms -- those filed in court -- should be jurisdiction-specific. When looking for appropriate practice forms it is helpful to check with the court in which the document(s) will be filed because the court may have its own forms. You can check the court's website (see the law library's Illinois Legal Websites: Courts page for links) or contact the clerk of the court directly.
  • If a jurisdiction-specific form is not available, more general forms can be used for guidance in creating a document. For example, there are few Illinois discovery form books, but Bender's Form of Discovery or another general set will likely have useful information.

The form sets listed below are a non-exhaustive list of materials available in the law library and through various online services.

General & Law Practice Forms

General - Substantive
  • Am. Jur. Legal Forms 2d [available on Westlaw]
  • Criminal Defense Techniques [available on Lexis]
  • Fletcher Corporation Forms, Annotated [available on Westlaw]
  • Nichol's Cyclopedia of Legal Forms Annotated [available on Westlaw]
  • West's Legal Forms [available on Westlaw]
General - Procedural
  • Am. Jur. Pleading and Practice Forms Annotated [available on Westlaw]
  • F. Lee Bailey and Kenneth Fishman, Complete Manual of Criminal Forms (3d ed.)  [available on Westlaw and in print (with CD-ROM), KF 9616 B3 2001]
General - Discovery/Trial Preparation
  • Am. Jur. Trials [available on Westlaw]
  • Am. Jur. Proof of Facts 3d [available on Westlaw]
  • Bender's Forms of Discovery [available on Lexis]
  • Pattern Deposition Checklists [ available on Westlaw]
  • Deposition Strategy, Law and Forms (KF 8900 D4)
  • Preparing for Settlement and Trial (KF 8900 P727 1985)  Contains checklists. [no longer updated in print at the law library]
  • Shepard's Causes of Action, Second [available on Westlaw] Also commonly referred to as Causes of Action or COA. Presents the  elements of a case. Contains checklists.
  • Daniel I. Small and Robin Page West, Letters for Litigators: Essential Communication for Opposing Counsel, Witnesses, Clients and Others (KF 311 S54 2004) - click on call number to see table of contents
Law Practice Forms
  • Gary A. Munneke and Anthony E. Davis, The Essential Formbook: Comprehensive Management Tools for Lawyers (KF 318 M85 2000)
  • Law Office Policy & Procedures Manual, 6th ed. (Robert C. Wert & Howard I Hatoff, eds.) (KF 318 R64 2011)

Federal Forms

Federal Forms - Jury Instructions
  • Ronald W. Eads, Jury Instructions in [subject] (KF 8984 E32 ... ) [many topics in set available on Lexis] Includes multiple subjects such as tort actions, automobiles etc.
  • Model Jury Instructions: [subject] (KF 8984 ... )
  • Kevin F. O'Malley et al., Federal Jury Practice and Instructions [available on Westlaw]
  • Pattern Jury Instructions: Civil [number] Circuit (KF 8984 ... ) Names of instructions may vary by Circuit [Some Model and Pattern jury instructions available on Lexis and Westlaw]
  • Pattern Jury Instructions: Criminal [number] Circuit (KF 9682 ... ) Names of instructions may vary by Circuit [Some Model and Pattern jury instructions available on Lexis and Westlaw]
  • Leonard B. Sand et al., Modern Federal Jury Instructions (KF 8984 M64 1984) - through 2004 in print at NIU [ available on Lexis - current]
Federal Forms - Procedural
  • Federal Civil Practice: 2015 (IICLE) (KF 8840 F4 2015)
    • [available online at the law school via IICLE SmartBooks - only available via a lab computer]
  • Federal Criminal Practice, 2011 (IICLE) (KF 9619.3 F4 2011)
    • [available online at the law school via IICLE SmartBooks - only available via a lab computer]
  • Federal Procedural Forms, L. Ed. [available on Westlaw]
  • West's Federal Forms [available on Westlaw]

Illinois Forms

All titles listed in this section are shelved in the Illinois Collection section of the law library unless otherwise indicated.

Illinois - Substantive- General
  • Illinois Forms: Practice-Oriented Forms for Legal and Business Transactions (KFl 1268 I56) [available on Westlaw]
  • Samuel H. Young et al., Midwest Transaction Guide: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan [Available on Lexis]
Illinois - Procedural
  • Illinois Civil Practice Forms (KFI 1730 A65 C55) [available on Westlaw]
  • Timothy Eaton & William R. Quinlan, Illinois Civil Appellate Practice: State and Federal 2011 (IICLE) (Reserve and Illinois Collection, KFI 1755 E3 2011)
    • [available online at the law school via IICLE SmartBooks - only available via a lab computer]
  • Timothy Storm, Illinois Appellate Practice Manual (KFI 1755 F44 2015)
  • Illinois Causes of Action: Tort Actions, 2014 (IICLE) (KFI 1730 Z9 I43 2014)
    • [available online at the law school via IICLE SmartBooks - only available via a lab computer]
  • Illinois Causes of Action: Estate, Business and Non­ Personal Injury Actions, 2014 (IICLE) (KFI 1730 Z9 I44 2014)
    • [available online at the law school via IICLE SmartBooks - only available via a lab computer]
  • Illinois Civil Practice (IICLE Series, 3 titles) (Reserve and Stacks at KFl 1738 1431, 1432, 1433, 2012 and 2015)
    • [available online at the law school via IICLE SmartBooks - only available via a lab computer]
  • Nichol's Illinois Civil Practice with Forms (KFl 1730 N5) [available on Westlaw]
Illinois - Discovery
  • Illinois Civil Discovery Practice, 2014 (IICLE) (KFI 1737 I4 2014)
    • [available online at the law school via IICLE SmartBooks - only available via a lab computer]
Illinois - Jury Instructions
Illinois - Select Particular Subjects
  • Defending Illinois Criminal Cases, 2010 (IICLE) (Reserve KFI 1775 D42 2010)
    • [available online at the law school via IICLE SmartBooks - only available via a lab computer]
  • H. Joseph Gitlin, Gitlin On Divorce: A Guide to Illinois Matrimonial Law (3rd ed. 2001) (Reserve KFI 1300 G57 2001) [available on Lexis]
  • Horner Probate Practice and Estates With Forms (4th ed. rev) (KFI 1342 H64) [available on Westlaw]
  • Illinois Family Law (IICLE Series, 4 titles) (Reserve and Illinois Collection at KFI 1294 I441, I442, I443 & I444 2011 and 2015)
    • [available online at the law school via IICLE SmartBooks - only available via a lab computer]
  • Richard S. Kling, Illinois Criminal Defense Motions (Reserve KFI 1778 A65 K58 1995) [ available on Lexis]
  • Linda Sucher Pieczynski, Criminal Practice and Procedure (2d ed.) (KFI 1775 P54 2005) [available on Westlaw]
  • Real Property Service. Illinois (KFI 1312 A6 R 42 1988) [ available on Westlaw]

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