It’s your first day on the job as a licensed Attorney. You spent three, grueling years in law school, worked hard, and passed the bar exam. A client walks into your office needing assistance with obtaining emergency custody of her child. You know you need to file an ex parte motion. You break out your handy dandy Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, ready to get to work. As someone who did well in Family Law, you feel competent enough to take on this case. Nonetheless, you quickly enter panic mode after realizing that you know the law, but not how to draft the motion. Your boss won’t return to the office for several hours, and time is of the essence. Where do you turn for assistance? Thorp’s North Carolina Trial Practice Forms (7th ed. 2013) of course!
The trial practice forms in this resource follow the same structure as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Where multiple subsections of rules apply, the forms are listed under each relevant subsection of those rules. Rules are divided into five basic areas: Pleadings and Motions, Parties, Discovery, Trials, and Judgment. The appropriate form in Thorp’s can be located via the general index or the table of contents which organizes the forms according to the following topics in civil procedure:
- Commencement of action
- Service and filing of pleadings
- Pleading special matters
- Defenses and objections
- Counterclaim and cross-claim
- Third-party practice
- Amended and supplemental pleadings
- Class actions
- Substitution of parties
The text of the rules is included immediately before the forms and provides the “law behind the forms.” Thorp’s also includes practice notes, as well as, expert insight into the forms, rules from a practitioner’s standpoint, and research references to additional materials. Keep in mind that, while Thorp’s is an excellent source for trial practice forms and is updated by annual supplements between editions, it is not a one-stop-shop, meaning that additional, independent research is necessary to understand the applicable statutes, update the notes of decisions, and locate any additional treatises on North Carolina civil practice and procedure.
How do you go about accessing this resource you ask? Well, there are many ways. First, used copies are available from Amazon for about $75.00, and new copies with an accompanying CD-ROM, from Thomson Reuters for $493.00 (updates cost an additional $28.00 per month). Or, the electronic version of the form book is available on WestlawNext. To locate, type the title in the universal search box and, once “Thorp’s North Carolina Trial Practice Forms” populates in the suggestion box below, select the form book (note: make certain to check the “Show Suggestions” box beforehand). Finally, don’t forget the free print option: Thorp’s is located in the “Reference: Carolinas” section at the Charlotte School of Law library; the call number (KFN7930.A65 T48) is accessible via the library catalog with the following search string: “trial practice forms.”
I found Thorp’s to be extremely beneficial. However, I do think it might be more helpful were it to include more indices – such as one organized by cause of action. For instance, in the cause of action for an Absolute Divorce, the following forms are necessary: Civil Action Cover Sheet, Civil Summons, Complaint, Verification, Motion Cover Sheet, Motion for Summary Judgment, Certificate of Absolute Divorce Form, and a Judgment of Divorce Form. Although Thorp’s includes the aforementioned documents, a new Attorney might find a checklist that includes these items more helpful.
Thorp’s North Carolina Trial Practice Forms is an invaluable resource – it shows practitioners and law students the appropriate format and content pieces (i.e. terms of art, clauses, other specific language) of a multitude of legal documents. Although practice materials and form books such as Thorp’s are necessary for the actual practice of law, they are not substitutes for thorough research of the applicable statutes and common law.
~ Brooke McIntosh, L’14 ~
Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.