May 2016 • Volume 104 • Number 5 • Page 8
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IllinoisBarDocs: Smart Forms for ISBA Members
The ISBA's affordable library of fully automated legal forms can save you time and money.
Suppose you had access to a library of practice forms drafted by subject-matter authorities from the Illinois legal community, including ISBA section council members. Suppose further that these forms were fully automated with HotDocs document-assembly software, so that you could generate multiple forms after entering information once. And suppose the whole library - every form in every practice area - were available for one low annual or monthly fee.
Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, you don't need to suppose - it's here. Thanks to the release of IllinoisBarDocs earlier this year, affordable HotDocs legal forms are available to all ISBA members. IllinoisBarDocs grew out of an idea advanced by ISBA past President John Locallo, championed by my predecessor Rick Felice, and finally brought to fruition during my term.
The current IllinoisBarDocs library includes family law and real estate forms, as well as the Illinois statutory POA forms for property and health care. The family law forms comply with the rewrite of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act that took effect January 1. You'll find a complete list of IllinoisBarDocs forms by clicking on "Library" at http://bit.ly/1WpGtHa.
One of the great things about IllinoisBarDocs is that subscribers have access to the whole library, including all new forms as they are added, for the same low subscription price of $199 per year or $20 per month. Plans are underway to add basic estate planning and probate forms, business organization forms (e.g., for creating partnerships and LLCs), basic litigation forms like pleadings and motions, and other form sets. Forms will be regularly updated to reflect changes in the law.
Another great thing is that these are so much more than mere fill-in-the-blank forms. A feature that makes IllinoisBarDocs so valuable - especially for solo and small firm lawyers but truly for everyone - is that the forms are fully automated with HotDocs document assembly software. The best way to understand what that means is to think about how popular tax-preparation software (e.g., TurboTax) works. IllinoisBarDocs presents you with a series of questions, generates a completed form based on the answers you provide, and then allows you to download the completed form. It also saves your answers so that when you need to generate a different form for the same client, you don't have to reenter common information (e.g., client information, court, caption, etc.).
IllinoisBarDocs is secure and easy to use. This is truly a cloud-based system housed on the online HotDocs Market - it requires no purchasing, installation, or maintenance of software, unlike some other form products for sale in the Illinois market. The only software you need on your computer to make the system work is Microsoft Word, which enables you to open, review, and edit the completed forms after you've downloaded them. You can access IllinoisBarDocs from any device that connects to the Internet - your Windows or Mac computer, your iPad or Android tablet, even your smartphone.
This ease of use is a key element of IllinoisBarDocs, and it's made possible by the web-based HotDocs Market that launched last year. Before the Market, using HotDocs for document assembly meant 1) buying and installing expensive and complex software, 2) converting your own forms to HotDocs templates or buying them (often expensively) from commercial publishers, and 3) paying to edit your templates every time the law changed - that or learning to update templates yourself.
With IllinoisBarDocs, ISBA does the heavy lifting for you. We compile the forms and we pay for the HotDocs templates to be created and updated. All you need to do is pay the yearly or monthly subscription fee. Again, this amount covers unlimited use of IllinoisBarDocs and all of its forms- there are no hidden fees.
For more information, visit http://www.isba.org/forms/illinoisbardocs. Or read Tim Slating's article in the January 2016 Illinois Bar Journal at http://bit.ly/1qE4M87. Then join the more than 500 lawyers who are already using IllinoisBarDocs to practice more effectively and efficiently.