Finding the right form on Westlaw: Tips from Andy O’Meara

August 19, 2010

FormFinder: Find your form faster on WestlawHave you ever searched for a form in Westlaw only to find that the results weren’t exactly what you had in mind? If so, you’re not alone.

“A lot of Westlaw users go to the FORMS-ALL database to look for forms,” says Andy O’Meara, a West Reference Attorney. “And what they find is often in the wrong format for what they need – for example, they’re looking for a form and they find a checklist.”

In these situations, Westlaw’s FormFinder tool can be a huge help.  “With FormFinder, you can choose whether you want to find a clause or a checklist or one of the various types of forms that are out there,” Andy says.  “And unlike FORMS-ALL, FormFinder also gives you official PDF forms from the states.”

In his four years as a reference attorney, Andy has helped hundreds of Westlaw users locate the forms they need. “Typically, form calls come from solo practitioners or newer attorneys looking for forms because they haven’t dealt with a particular situation before,” he says.

For example, Andy recently received a call from an attorney looking for forms to set up a new church in Georgia. He pointed her to FormFinder and then suggested that she expand her search to include all nonprofits, not just churches. “Sometimes it’s helpful to pull back a little bit,” he says.

While many forms are jurisdiction-specific, the bulk of their content is often universal. “That’s where Easy-Edit comes in handy,” Andy says, referring to the FormFinder feature that allows users to download forms in rich-text format for easy editing and tweaking to suit the need. “There’s an additional charge for Easy-Edit, but it can really be worth it to cut down on the time takes to modify a form.”

Andy recently narrated a two-minute video that provides a quick overview of FormFinder’s most useful features and enhancements. “I think we’ve addressed every pain point in the workflow of the practitioner – searching for the form, finding the form they want, and modifying the form to fit their situation,” he says.

FormFinder gives you access to more than 500,000 forms, with clauses and checklists for just about any legal filing. In addition to Easy-Edit text forms, FormFinder now features a revamped search template, global search functionality, more intuitive browsing and filtering tools, links to related resources, and new content from Miller’s Standard Insurance Policies Annotated and Oden. For more on FormFinder, visit west.thomson.com/formfinder.