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Back in what now seems eons ago I thought hard for quite a while about building a legal forms wiki – an open site that would feature legal forms for open use, that could be built upon and improved – even annotated – by the community. I originally thought of it as a universal precedent management system for solo and small firm lawyers (“the precedent system for the rest of us”), but of course its value as a resource for clients would also have been profound. Frankly, it’s always made me somewhat crazy that so much valuable information was so locked up and only available to lawyers. There are clearly better ways (Michael Carabash is trying something interesting in that vein here).
Time and the more pedestrian concerns of building a practice have a way of pushing ideas like that to the background, and so they did, but for years I’ve thought about making simple forms available on the web. I routinely hand forms out to my clients, but something broader than that always struck me as an interesting possibility.
With the launch of the new site we’ve tried to start down that path. There is now a category on the blog called “Forms” where you will find a few commonly requested legal forms (there is also a listing and link in the right column here). Our IP in them is licensed on an open basis: for any use, by anyone, without attribution. (Keep in mind that legal forms are not generic – there are many variables, and every form is not right for every situation. As always, consider consulting a lawyer to talk through your needs and what is appropriate for you.)
Over time we’ll build on this admittedly timid start as time allows. Please feel free to poke around and offer any comments you have. For now, the forms are hosted on .docstoc. That app is a little cluttery, so in time we may move on, but links on the postings that feature the forms will be updated if we do.
Update: In short order docstoc proved unwieldy so the forms are now hosted here.
As web apps become easier to develop, and as Small Claims court ceilings rise (now $25,000 in Ontario), the economics on service providers in this area is changing. So much so that there have been two very interesting recent additions to this market: My Legal Briefcase and Mr. Small Claims Court. Mitch Kowalski has covered them here and here.
Managing litigation – even at this scale – is time consuming and frustrating. This creates barriers to the effective management of your external relationships. Both services look like they could be great ways to manage that challenge.
We haven’t tried either service, but if you have, and have feedback or any other thoughts, please leave them in the comments.
My friend Jordan Dolgin has a great post today on an alternative approach to non-solicitation clauses in your employment agreements.
Fundica helps you find funding in Ontario or Quebec (other provinces to follow).
Some time ago the guys at StartupNorth posted a list of investors who provide funding in the startup space.