The law in the United States is dynamic and ever-changing. Every day, there are new statutes, regulations, verdicts and interpretations published which can completely change the rules in a particular jurisdiction and area of law.
Court forms are similarly dynamic and ever-changing, with new versions being published not only to reflect changes in statutory and case law, but also to address logistics, typos, process improvements, and so on.
To keep up with changes in law, there are many tools available today that provide immediate insights into changes, such as WestLaw and Lexis-Nexis used by many law firms, and sites such as FindLaw and Justia used by consumers.
What about keeping up with the constant changes in court forms? The only true solution available today is Forms Workflow, which is being kept up-to-date across the country by American LegalNet’s in-house team of paralegals. More than half of the Am Law 100 rely on Forms Workflow to ensure that their legal professionals are always using the correct version of forms, and Forms Workflow converts all of them to Microsoft Word DOCX format, making them much easier and faster to fill than the PDFs that are typically found on search engines and court websites (and in some cases, the forms are not even made readily available in a fillable format on the court’s website).
Changing Laws Mean Changing Court Forms
When looking for the latest court form, the first step is to identify the legal procedure (divorce, probate, etc.) that applies to your situation. Once you’ve identified the legal procedure that applies, you must find the currently accepted court forms to file. Your state’s courts website will most likely have some sort of disclaimer that states the date from which the forms were most recently updated and may even list the changes made to the forms.
Court forms are based on following the laws of the legal procedure they are for. This means that as laws change, corresponding court forms are updated to reflect those changes. Unfortunately, there is no set time for changes in the law—it can happen frequently, infrequently, or sometimes not at all. Laws typically change to reflect a shift in society’s opinion on a subject or the introduction of an entirely new concept that requires legal regulation. For example, laws for safe driving didn’t always include a ban on texting and driving. But as more states saw an increase in traffic accidents due to texting, they began adding a law prohibiting it. This change in law could have then led to updated court forms dealing with traffic incidents and violations.
There are thousands of laws that define civil and criminal rules and give guidelines for how to handle various personal and professional legal situations. That means that changes can take place at almost any time—and the same can be said for court forms. However, if you’re finding court forms through your state’s court website or through Forms Workflow, you should have the most current version available to you. Avoid saving a court form to your desktop and using it again —even two days in a row—because you never know when the changes will take place.
Tip: When searching forms in Forms Workflow, you can always see the dates the form was last updated, and the version / revision date of the form.