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  • InsideTrack
  • September 03, 2014

    Forms Manual is the Key to Litigation Answers and Life Outside the Office

    The State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE Wisconsin Civil Litigation Forms Manual is the ideal litigation-preparation companion. Recently updated, it’s the next best thing to having at your side a team of experienced litigators.

    Sept. 3, 2014, – Time is a precious resource, especially in deadline-driven areas such as civil litigation. Using State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE’s Wisconsin Civil Litigation Forms Manual, you’ll be able to focus on the substance of preparing and trying cases and still adhere to form, while also leaving room in your schedule for life outside law practice.

    Friday: Questions, Questions

    1 p.m. – Just got back from “Firm Friday Lunch.” Everyone’s supposed to attend, but Ross was a conspicuous absence. What’s up with that? He was in the office this morning.

    3 p.m. – Mystery solved. Ross just gave his notice; he’s starting with a new firm on Monday. Jim, one of the partners, called me into his office and handed me a folder: “This is one of Ross’s cases, the school-bullying matter we accepted last month. I think there might be a filing deadline coming up in the next few weeks. Can you look at the file?”

    6 p.m. – I was hoping to be on the lake by now; instead, here I am, trying to figure out the filing-deadline issue Jim dropped on me. I was afraid to tell him that even though I loved civil procedure in law school, I don’t know that much about how to actually prepare a case.

    8 p.m. – I looked at the file and I have to say, at first it wasn’t at all clear what the deadline was that Jim referred to. Then it hit me, the student who says he was bullied attends a public school, and “public” equals “government,” and I think there might be special statutes for filing suit against governmental entities in Wisconsin. Luckily, it also hit me that Sarah said I should look at some State Bar book for quick answers to questions about Wisconsin litigation.

    Bingo! I found Sarah’s well-thumbed copy of State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE’s Wisconsin Civil Litigation Forms Manual. It was just updated in June 2014. And there in chapter 1 is the answer to my first question: “In some situations, documents must be filed before an action can be commenced. The most common situations involve actions against municipal or local governmental units …”

    Saturday: Finding the Answers

    10 a.m. – Now, back to work. I’m confident about figuring out the merits of the case but not nearly as sure how to deal with the logistics. Fortunately, the forms (and commentary) in chapter 1 of the Manual will get me over the first hump of the pre-suit requirements. Obviously, I’ll modify the notice and notice of claim form for our client’s specific circumstances, but it’s such a relief to be able to follow a template that makes me aware of the vital considerations.

    1 p.m. – Before plunging into drafting, I decide to browse the Civil Litigation Forms Manual. I can’t anticipate everything that will happen with the case but I’d like to have as few surprises as possible. For example, I know we’ll need our client’s school records, but I didn’t realize until looking at the sample “Authorization for Release of Educational Records” that federal law is implicated nor that we must be careful with the interplay of educational records and health records. Chapter 31, “Physical, Mental, and Vocational Examinations,” has great tips about dealing with health-care providers when seeking patients’ records.

    The “Using These Forms” section might sound dry, but it’s not to miss. It covers mandatory forms and form, service, and filing of papers, including electronic filing, and it reminds me to check local court rules. And, speaking of electronics, maybe I’ll be able to get to the lake after all, even though I haven’t yet prepared a first version of the notice and notice of claim. I can download the forms from the CD and take my computer and the Books UnBound version of the Civil Litigation Forms Manual with me.

    Monday: Problems Solved (For Now)

    8 a.m. – I walk into the office and tell Jim I figured out the filing issue. I’ll keep to myself that I got some sun and fresh air at the same time.

    About the Book

    The Wisconsin Civil Litigation Forms Manual is the ideal litigation-preparation companion, wherever you prefer to work. It’s the next best thing to having at your side a team of experienced litigators like those who reviewed and adapted their firms’ forms and then annotated them for use in the book. The 40-plus chapters cover the spectrum of civil litigation practice, from pre-suit to postjudgment matters. Cross-references to more in-depth treatments of subjects in other PINNACLE treatises on litigation are included.

    Wisconsin Civil Litigation Forms Manual is available in print to members for $249 plus tax and shipping. Subscribers to the State Bar’s automatic supplementation service will receive future updates at a discount off the update price. Annual subscriptions to Books UnBound start at $149 per title (single-user prices; call for library and firm pricing). To order the Wisconsin Civil Litigation Forms Manual, or for more information, contact the State Bar at (800) 728-7788 or visit the Marketplace website.

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