Standardized Court Forms

Standardized court forms are the linchpin to successful self-represented litigant (SRL) services, aiding SRLs, court staff, attorneys, and judges.

SRLs benefit because standardized forms facilitate access to the court, as well as make transparent the legally relevant facts necessary for a decision on the merits. In other words, a well written form can help a litigant understand what the judge needs to know, thereby making the SRL more efficient during hearings.

Court staff benefit because standardized court forms preserve staff neutrality, standardize information, ease training burdens, and increase individual and system efficiency; a good standardized form will provide court staff with all the necessary and relevant information located in predictable places on the document.

Attorneys benefit because standardized forms reduce the administrative and clerical load on attorneys, allowing attorneys to spend more of their time practicing at the top of their licenses, providing legal advice.

Judges benefit because standardized forms allow them to locate quickly and easily the necessary and relevant information to render a decision.

Finally, in addition to improving access courts, standardized forms improve the quality of justice by ensuring that all judges in that jurisdiction are briefed consistently on all of the necessary elements to any particular procedural or substantive request; when individual judges or courts within a jurisdiction create their own forms, inconsistency necessarily creeps in. Standardized court forms improve the consistency and transparency of the judicial branch, both of which are essential for public trust and confidence in the courts.

National Association for Court Management 2020 Midyear Conference

The National Association for Court Management (NACM) is committed to providing innovative, engaging and emerging trends at its Midyear and Annual Conferences, typically held in February and July, respectively.

Webinar: Why Plain Language Works (Dyer 2018)

Webinar link: Why Plain Language Works, August 2018 Webinar by Charles Dyer

The Lab @DC, Office of the City Administrator 2018 Form-a-Palooza (Washington, D.C.)

The 2018 Form-a-Palooza sponsored by the Lab @DC, Office of the City Administrator, will occur in Washington, DC and will focus on producing a prototype of select government forms.  For more information see the 

Webinar: How to Incorporate Plain Language into Court Forms, Websites, and Other Materials

The National Association for Court Management, in partnership with the Self-represented Litigation Network (SRLN), invites you to participate in its third webinar of 2017 on November 29, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.

SRLN 2017 Forms Competition

2017 SRLN Forms & Technology Working Group -- Best Forms Contest

Book: Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law (Kimble 2012)

This book collects the empirical evidence for the value of plain language in business, government, and law.

Report: Can Translation Software Help Legal Services Agencies Deliver Legal Information More Effectively in Foreign Languages and Plain English? (Hineline & Hogue 2013)

This report investigates the current and possible uses of translation tools, including fully-automated machine translation and a somewhat different translation technology, translation memory.

Article: Improving Access to Justice: Plain Language Family Law Court Forms in Washington State (Dyer, Fairbanks, Greiner, Barron, Skreen, Cerrillo-Ramirez, Lee, Hinsee 2013)

From the Abstract:

Report: The Gains from Clarity: A Research Report on the Effects of Plain-Language Documents (Mills & Duckworth 1996)

In this 1996 out of Australia, Gordon Mills and Mark Duckworth of Centre for Microeconomic Policy Analysis and Centre for Plain Legal Language at Sydney University found that the 1994 forms revisions in the Family Court of Australia resulted in

Weblink: Efficiencies and Innovation in California (California 2015)

On its webpage entitled, Efficiencies & Innovations, the The California judicial branch, which is widely acknowledged as a national leader in developing and implementing programs that enh