Changes in legal processes spurred on by the pandemic had many downstream effects. Prominent among these was the explosion of new court forms and revisions to existing ones.
At Korbitec, we update our court form library as the documents become effective. Typically, this has meant six to eight content updates per year. Yet, in the first four months of 2021 alone, we released seven global updates, with changes to 44 forms. That pace has not slowed in the past year, and the challenge of keeping current with court form updates remains.
Consequences of Using the Wrong Court Form
Before you dismiss forms as a minor concern, consider the negative consequences of using the wrong form.
The court may reject your filing, delaying the processing of your case or even resulting in the dismissal of your claim or defense if a critical date has passed. In addition, using outdated forms could result in errors or omissions in your submission, which could impact the validity of your filing.
Furthermore, using outdated forms may result in incorrect or incomplete information being provided to the court, which could lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
Many Ways to Keep Up with Form Changes
There are several ways lawyers can keep up with changes in court forms, but all are not equally efficient or reliable. Here are some of the most common:
- Court websites: Most courts have websites where they post updates and changes to court forms. Lawyers can regularly check these websites to stay up to date. Reliable, but not very efficient.
- Newsletters: Many courts and legal organizations send out regular newsletters or bulletins that include information about updates and changes to court forms. Lawyers can sign up for these newsletters to receive the latest updates. Reliable, if you conscientiously read all the newsletters, but again not very efficient.
- Continuing professional development (CPD): Many CPD courses cover updates and changes to court forms. Lawyers can attend these courses to learn about the latest changes and stay informed. Neither reliable nor efficient, as courses may not always align with the effective dates of new forms.
- Legal associations: These organizations often provide updates and training on changes to court forms. Like CPD courses, this approach is typically retrospective and may miss the effective dates of the new forms.
- Legal software: Some legal software providers include updates to court forms within their software. For vendors that align their updates with the frequency of form changes, this can be the most reliable and efficient way to keep current.
Why Use Document Automation?
Last month’s post, “Legal Technology Competence: A Starting Point”, explained document automation and its benefits. In the context of court form changes, document automation can ensure that the court forms you use are the latest versions and adhere to formatting and content requirements, reducing the risk of rejection or delays.
In addition, recall the other benefits that accrue to you when you use document automation to manage your forms creation:
- Lower Risk: Document automation ensures that court forms are completed accurately and consistently, reducing the risk of errors and inconsistencies that can occur when filling out forms manually.
- Higher Productivity: Document automation can help reduce the time and cost of legal work by automating repetitive tasks such as entering client information and formatting documents. This allows lawyers to focus on more complex legal work or take on a higher volume of work.
- Faster Onboarding: Document automation allows staff to be more effective and productive sooner, especially if the technology aligns with the workflow of a legal practitioner.
For lawyers still managing forms themselves, the accelerating pace of change has made it hard to stay current. If you use an older precedent today, there is a good chance the form is wrong. And some forms may have no precedent at all. In all, hundreds of forms have changed in the past couple of years, and the case has never been stronger for software that keeps you current with the latest content.
About Michael Sauber
Michael Sauber leads the marketing program for Korbitec, producer of Automated Civil Litigation Software (ACL) and xchangedocs. He has worked with document production technologies and professional services for over 30 years and is a frequent blogger on these topics.