Drafting court forms takes time. You’ll want California Judicial Council forms software for that, but how do you choose which option is the best fit for your practice? Will the product live up to the claims made on their website? Is it a tool that will scale with your firm? Have they really considered the unique needs of your practice?

Figuring out if a relationship with a B2B software company will be worth the cost and time it takes to onboard is always a bit of a challenge. Evaluating if a provider of California Judicial Council forms software will be the right fit for your organization is no different. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these challenges over the last several years as we built our product—a cloud-based, scalable form solution for legal professionals. We’ve learned a lot along the way, and adopted some strong (yet well-informed!) opinions in the course of researching, developing, and testing our product.

In this post, we break down the most important things you should have on your list of key requirements as you evaluate California Judicial Council forms software. While some of the pointers below might seem obvious to you, we think the solution that checks all of the following boxes will save you the most time, effort, and frustration.

Requirement No. 1: It’s gotta have all the forms

The most important requirement: The solution you choose has to have all the California Judicial Council forms and local court forms in one place. Not only that, they need to be up-to-date and fillable. Otherwise, you’ll be spending the majority of your time finding the right forms, converting Word documents into fillable PDFs, and back again. Don’t waste your time on tedious tasks—that’s why we have software in the first place. (If you are a glutton for punishment, read this post for our complete guide on how you can create your own fillable forms.

Search for California Judicial Council forms.
Searching for forms in Lawyaw is easy. All Judicial Council, state and immigration forms are available and up-to-date.

Requirement No. 2: California Judicial Council forms software in the cloud

Gone (or should be gone!) are the days of installing software via CD-ROM and waiting for a software update before you can have access to the most up-to-date forms. (Yes, we’re looking at you, Essential Forms.

To get the most value out of your software, and to make sure everyone in your firm can use it no matter where they are, we recommend finding a solution that works on both PCs and Macs. Even if your office is a sea of black plastic PC towers, cross-platform support comes in handy when your assistant or paralegal needs to fill out several forms for your client and wants to easily assign it to you for review and signature.

A cloud-based forms software solution also means that you never have to worry about where you left off, whether or not you remember to hit “save,” or if you’ll be able to finish up some work at home after a day in the office. We write more about the benefits of a cross-platform solution here. The bottom line: When there’s confusion about software versions or incompatible file types, the process tends to grind to a halt. Since your documents live in the cloud with Lawyaw, all those little headaches simply go away.

Requirement No. 3: Flexible forms

Sure, the very word “form” implies that you can’t have flexibility. But that’s not always the case, and you shouldn’t be limited by overly rigid software that didn’t think of your specific use case. That’s why we recommend California Judicial Council forms software that gives you the ability to drop in a text box anywhere — because there isn’t always space for you to fit all the things you need to write in the form.

Another nice touch we built into Lawyaw: The size of the font should auto-shrink to fit inside the fields of the form. I mean, when are those fields ever long enough anyway?

California court forms with custom fields
Lawyaw makes it easy to add a custom field to your forms so you can create more space (there’s never enough) for all your text.

Requirement No. 4: Compatible with Microsoft Word

I know we recommended a modern, cloud-based solution above. But (surprise!) Microsoft Office is still as much a daily ritual in a lawyer’s life as a cup of coffee.

With Lawyaw, you can turn all your Word-based documents like settlement agreements, trusts, and engagement agreements into fillable templates. We’ve heard complaints from countless attorneys about how much time they spend updating details in a previously used agreement so it can be used for a new client. Turning those desktop “templates” into cloud-based fillable templates is vastly better than the old way — and eliminates the hunting and pecking through a Word document looking for elements like names and pronouns to change.

Requirement No. 5: Adapts to your workflow

We believe legal forms software should be versatile enough to adapt to your workflow, not the other way around.

That’s why Lawyaw lets you download the completed set of forms as one PDF document to make it easy to print, share electronically, or hand off to your filing service. Lawyaw also integrates with Clio, so you can you can easily populate documents with your client information — pulled in straight from Clio.

Lawyaw connects to Clio
Connect your Clio account to Lawyaw to import client information and track your time.

Requirement No. 6: Create sets of frequently used court forms.

One of the primary objectives we had in mind when we built Lawyaw’s California Judicial Council forms software was to streamline the time it takes to do your court form drafting. One of the biggest ways we achieve that for our clients today is with our form sets feature.

You can create sets of forms for filings that require the same forms every time. So if you’re doing dissolutions or conservatorships on a regular basis, you don’t have to rebuild that entire set of 18 or more forms every time. With Lawyaw, all you have to do is add that set of forms to an existing client and our software will fill in the new client information across all of them.

To save even more time, Lawyaw can remember the boxes you check in your form set. That way, when you duplicate it to your new client, we’ll also keep all those prechecked fields.

Lawyaw California court forms sets
Lawyaw saves time by allowing you to create sets of frequently used forms and duplicate them over and over again to be used with new clients.

Requirement No. 7: Reduces data entry

Gone are the days where you have to enter the same information over and over again. Lawyaw makes it easy to enter your attorney and client information once, then populate it throughout every form you need to fill going forward.

You can even select from all of the California courts and Lawyaw will automatically populate court address and name. With Lawyaw, you fill in the data once, and the software fills in the entire set of forms everywhere else it appears.

It’s all in an effort to eliminate data entry and get your court form drafting done in half the time.

Requirement No. 8: Built-in e-sign

Last but not least: Your California Judicial Council forms software should support the ability to e-sign your documents and send them out for clients to sign. Lawyaw has a built-in federally compliant e-sign tool, so rounding up those signatures and final approvals takes fewer resources and is much easier to track than traditional methods.

E-sign for attorneys
No need to pay for third-party e-sign tools. Lawyaw includes built-in a federally compliant e-signature.

Conclusion

We hope the above recommendations help you determine what type of Judicial Council forms software solution might be the right fit for your practice. Although it might seem like a lot to consider, the best software has done all the heavy lifting for you!