Wednesday, May 2, 2012


A lot of the work that we do as family law lawyers in California includes completing pre-printed, fill in the blank forms.  A lot of the challenges in this particular work have been eliminated with the advent of commercial software products.

I was speaking at a CLE program this week, and was asked by one of the attendees why I use Essential Forms rather than ProDoc?  I gave an honest answer, in two parts.  First I have always found Essential Forms to be affordable  ($599 and up to start, then $295 per year to maintain) and reliable, so I have never made a change.  Second, I didn't know anything about ProDoc.

That, or course, drove me to the ProDoc website to take a look.  Here is what I learned.

1.  ProDoc is a West (Thomson Reuters) product.

2.  It has versions for several states, and several practice areas for each state.

2.  There is a California module.  It includes all of the California Judicial Council forms, and all local county forms (those cost extra in Essential Forms). As a sub-set, there is a California family law module.

3.  ProDoc is a subscription service.  If I am reading the website right, it costs $156 per month.

3.  In addition to the Judicial Council forms Pro Docs includes a library of other document templates, such as motions, marital settlement agreements.  According to the ProDoc website ProDoc:
  • Allows you to customize forms groups that can be accessed and filled out simultaneously to save time [same as Essential Forms]
  • Automatically populates client and case information, merges data, and more [same as Essential Forms]
  • Contains virtually every form you need for a family law matter in a single integrated volume [same as Essential Forms]
  • Features a timesaving integrated system - enter client/case data once per case and generate multiple documents from that data [same as Essential Forms]
  • Helps you avoid embarrassing errors in your documents, including mismatched pronouns and leftover clauses from other documents.
Unfortunately that is all that I can tell you.  The website does not include any screen shots, sample docs, or reviews from users.  I can answer the original question better now tough.  I use Essential Forms because it is cheaper than ProDoc I think?), it is reliable, and I have never seen ProDoc in action so I know very little about it.

If there are any ProDoc users out there who want to chime in, I would love to hear from you.  Please send me your thoughts!.

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