Form books can be a great help in drafting and they can also be a downfall.

| November 9, 2018

Form books can be a great help in drafting and they can alsobe a downfall. Losing sight of a form book’s limitations andusefulness can cause attorneys and paralegals the ire of acourt. Take a look at Clement v. Public Service Electric andGas Co., 198 F.R.D. 634 (D. N.J. 2001), where the use of aform book cost an attorney sanctions and public embarrassment.As the judge in the case pointed out: “[a]ttorneys whomerely copy form complaints and fi le them in this court withoutconducting independent legal research and examining thefacts giving rise to a potential claim do so at their peril. Lawyersare not automatons. They are trained professionals whoare expected to exercise independent judgment.” Id at 636.The moral of the story is: watch out for those form books.Copying the boilerplate without any thought or independentlegal research can compromise your integrity and reputation.What sanctions did the court impose on the attorney? Whatare the facts that lead to the attorney’s sanctions? Do you believethe judge’s disposition was too harsh? Why or why not?

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