Prepared by Kelly Kunsch, Seattle University Law Library

Bridge the Legal Research Gap, June 23, 2004

This handout is divided into two major sections:  Washington Practice Materials and General Practice Materials.  Typically, you would want to find resources that are jurisdiction specific because they will incorporate local nuances and idiosyncrasies that are often a part of the legal process.  If resources for your jurisdiction do not exist, however, you can rely on general resources.  You can also use general resources to supplement jurisdictional resources because they are often more comprehensive than jurisdictional resources.  For example, although volume nine of Washington Practice has several forms for complaints, it does not have one that specifically addresses a trustee’s breach of fiduciary duty.  You might, therefore, supplement the basic form supplied by Washington Practice with language for a complaint based on breach of fiduciary duty that is available in Causes of Action (which is not specific to any particular jurisdiction).



There already is an excellent resource guide on Washington Practice Materials that was prepared by Nancy McMurrer for the 2002 Bridge the Gap program (and updated in September 2003) located at:  This handout is intended to complement that work and is not nearly as comprehensive. 

One item that certainly bears repeating, however, is that the most important reference source for legal research in this state is Washington Legal Researcher’s Deskbook 3d published by the Marian Gould Gallagher Law Library and compiled by its Librarians.

Major Washington Law Libraries (I-5 Corridor)

King County Law Library; Room 807 Administration Building; 500 4th Avenue; Seattle; (206) 296-0940.

Seattle University Law Library; 900 Broadway (Sullivan Hall is on 12th & Columbia); Seattle; (206) 398-4220.

University of Washington Law Library (Marian Gould Gallagher Law Library); William H. Gates Hall; Seattle; (The Law Library is on Floors L1 and L2 in William H. Gates Hall on the University of Washington campus. Gates Hall is located south of the Burke Museum, between 15th Ave. NE and Memorial Way, near the intersection of 15th Ave. NE and NE 43d Street); (206) 543-4086.

Washington State Law Library; Temple of Justice (northwest corner of Capitol Campus); Olympia; (360) 357-2136.

Finding Books (Treatises) on Washington Law

Probably the best way to find important works covering Washington Law on a particular subject is to ask a person who knows the available resources.  Attorneys practicing in the area are excellent resources but, for any number of reasons, you might not want to tap those resources.  Don’t forget, law librarians also know what is available in their jurisdiction.  Ask the librarian where you work (if there is one) or call a Reference Librarian at any of the libraries listed above.

For a fairly comprehensive listing of Subject Specific Resources, see pages 95-133 in Chapter 4 of Washington Legal Researcher’s Deskbook 3d.

In the alternative, all of the above libraries have online catalogs.  It is probably best not to try a subject search initially (Library of Congress subject headings may not be obvious).  Instead, do a keyword search to find a relevant work and see what subject headings are used for it.

Major Sets:

Washington Practice (West).  Also available on Westlaw (database:  WAPRAC)
Washington Lawyers Practice Manual
(Seattle-King County Bar Association).
Washington State Bar Deskbooks (Washington State Bar Association).  Also available on Loislaw ( or
Lexis Law Publishing books (formerly Butterworths).  Some available online via Lexis service.

City and County Codes

Washington is fortunate to have The Municipal Research & Services Center of Washington that provides digitized copies of virtually every major city and county code.  The codes are located on MRSC’s website is at: 

Because the codes have become available from different publishers, the searching capabilities and layout can vary from code to code.  A few city and county codes are also available on Lexis and Westlaw. 

Administrative Agency Information

Administrative regulations are published in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC).  You can find hard copy versions in most libraries.  The indexing is cursory, at best.  The WAC is also available online from the State itself at: 

The WAC is also available online via Lexis, Westlaw, and numerous other commercial (and free) legal research sites.  Pay attention to the currency of the version of the WAC that you are looking at (as you should with any code you use). 

Administrative agency decisions vary with each agency.  Many are not available.  Some are only available in summary form, others in full.  Some are only available in print, some only in electronic format, and some in both.  A valuable table of availability of agency decisions is located on page 154 of Washington Legal Researchers Deskbook 3d.  Of course, the availability of information is constantly changing so a visit to the agency’s website is usually worthwhile.  You can also contact the agency itself from its website and inquire about the availability of its decisions.  You can locate each agencies website from the state’s homepage:

Information about administrative agencies themselves is also available at the agency’s website.  In addition, Washington State Yearbook contains basic contact information and authorizing legislation for the state’s administrative agencies.  (It contains contact information for all branches of the government and cities and counties, as well) 


There is no single comprehensive set of forms for Washington.  However, there are a couple major volumes that contain topical forms.  Volumes 9, 9A, 10 and 10A of the Washington Practice set contain Civil Procedure forms (arranged by Civil Rule number).  Other volumes of Washington Practice and most chapters of the Washington Lawyers Practice Manual and the WSBA Deskbooks also contain some forms.  Washington Corporate Forms and Trial Lawyer Form Books (published by the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association) are examples of topical formbooks specific to the state.  A keyword search in a library catalog including the word “form” and the word “Washington” (and possibly adding the desired topic) will display Washington formbooks held by the particular library.  Note, however, there may be forms in books that are not necessarily cataloged as “formbooks.” 

There are also a number of locations where you might look for forms online.  The Washington State Courts site has a listing of forms at:

These forms cover areas such as Domestic Relations and Garnishment.  Individual state agencies also provide forms on their website.  For example, the Secretary of State’s Office has registration forms at: and the Department of Licensing has forms at:

Court clerks may also have forms (particularly in more populated counties such as King):

Northwest Justice Project has forms for certain criminal and civil actions too:

Finally, your office may have its own template form commonly used forms.  You might ask friendly folks around your office to see if this is the case where you work.  At the very least, it could save you time. 

Jury Verdicts and Arbitration Awards

These can provide guidance for what a reasonable settlement demand would be. 

Personal Injury Valuation Handbooks.  National reporting “furnished by court clerks, legal contractors, plaintiff and defense attorneys, law clerks, legal reporters, publications, and media sources.” Arranged by body part and cause of action.  Tabbed. 

Northwest Personal Injury Litigation.  Reporter has changed names more times than Prince.  Jury Verdicts Northwest/Washington Jury Verdicts.  Contains settlements as well as verdicts. Arranged by type of accident. Indexed by:  Injury, Attorneys, Medical Doctors (alphabetical), Medical Doctors (field), Non-Medical Doctors, Expert Witnesses Entry includes:  name, docket number, attorneys, insurance company, experts, judge, injury, brief facts, demand, result. Westlaw (LRPWA-JV) but better to combine (WA-JV) or (WA-JV-PLUS) 

Washington Arbitration Reports.  Also published by Jury Verdicts Northwest.  Entries are similar to those in NPIL except decision is made by arbitrator rather than jury or settlement. 

Legislative History in Washington

This is probably the most common reference request in legal research.  Describing how to do a legislative history is far, far beyond the scope of this handout.  But in case you don’t go to the session on it, Peggy Jarrett and Cheryl Nyberg’s guide at the University of Washington Law Library is an excellent source to consult: 


Many law firms and government legal offices maintain their own “brief banks.”  This is because certain types of legal issues recur and it is useful to have not only the applicable law, but also the arguments previously made on the issue.  You might ask your employer if it has a brief bank that you can utilize.  Always remember that there may be new statutes, regulations, or cases that require the arguments to be updated or modified. 

All of the law libraries listed above maintain copies of appellate briefs for Washington state.  That includes not only Supreme Court briefs, but briefs from all three divisions of the Court of Appeals.  The briefs are usually arranged by citation, but occasionally, a library may shelve the briefs by docket number so you might want to obtain that information as well (it is usually listed after the case name in the reporters). 

Other Useful Websites

The Washington State Bar Association website at: has numerous valuable links.  The Lawyer Directory lists members of the bar, their status (active versus inactive, not marital), addresses, phone numbers, and often e-mail and fax contact points.  The site also has Washington State Bar News articles online back to 1999.  There are many articles on ethics issues written the WSBA’s Chief Disciplinary Counsel.  Ethics opinions (both published and unpublished) are available and searchable on the WSBA’s site. 

For citations, you will want to supplement Bluebook with the Reporter of Decisions’ Style Sheet:




The following is a very short list of practice materials that you might be unaware of and find useful.  They are not jurisdiction specific.

Shepard’s Causes of Action: Contents include:  Action Guide (overview), Index, References, Substantive Law Overview (establishing the prima facie case with cites to authority—decisions; defenses to the cause of action), Practice and Procedure (jurisdiction, statute of limitations, proof [checklists and sample testimony], damages elements checklist), Model Discovery (including interrogatories), Sample Case (actual appellate decision on the topic), Sample Pleading (complaint).  However, all of these may not be in every article. Westlaw (COA)

AmJur Proof of Facts:  This set of volumes is aimed at party with the burden of proof.  It is authored by practicing attorneys, trial judges, and experts in subject and includes both civil and criminal issues.  The civil emphasis is on personal injury.  It includes cross references—particularly to AmJur Trials.  It is updated with annual pocket parts. Contents include:  Background (including potential defendants, types of experts), Outline, Index (follows outline—not at end), Evidence Considerations, Defense Considerations, Elements of Damages,  Model Discovery (including interrogatories, document production requests, requests for admission, and oral deposition checklists), Elements of proof checklist, Illustrative forms (complaints, motions), Model jury instructions.  Every article may not contain all of these. Westlaw (AMJUR-POF) 

AmJur Trials:  These articles are focused on trial practice.  They can be similar to Proof of Facts in that the articles are based on a particular cause of action.  Trials also has articles like “Body Language for Trial Lawyers:  Persuasive Gestures, Postures, and Foot Movement in the Courtroom.”  The more common type articles include:  factual/design analysis, theories of the case, pleadings, discovery, experts, anticipating defenses, and jury instructions. Westlaw (AMJUR-TRIALS) 

Bender’s Forms of Discovery:  More than 25 volumes of interrogatories (Rule 33), arranged alphabetically by subject matter.  The set is also accessible by index.  Interrogatories, recall, are written discovery requests as opposed to the oral depositions. Entry has scope note (with cross-references to other topics that may be useful), contents, sometimes an introductory comment, and then the interrogatories. 

BNA Tax Management Portfolios cover the gamut of tax issues:  from substantive law to procedure.  Useful for transactions.  Include text and worksheets.  Similar portfolios are available for other subjects, most notably business transactions.

Form Books

General Formbooks

The formbooks listed below are not jurisdiction specific.  Each topic usually has a brief introduction and may include a checklist.  They often have alternative clauses to choose from.

West’s Legal Forms   Westlaw  (WEST-LF)
AmJur Legal Forms   Westlaw (AMJUR-LF)
Nichol’s Cyclopedia of Legal Forms   Westlaw (NICHOLS-LF)
AmJur Pleading & Practice Forms     Westlaw (AMJUR-PP) 

Jurisdiction Specific Formbooks

West’s Federal Forms   Westlaw (FEDFORMS)
Washington Practice:  Civil Procedure Forms and Commentary (vols. 9,9A,10,10A).  Arranged by court rule.  Westlaw (WAPRAC) 

Topical Formbooks

Fletcher Corporation Forms Annotated   Westlaw (FLTR-FRM)
Uniform Commercial Code Forms in v. 4&5 of Uniform Law Annotated   Westlaw (ULA)
Collier Forms Manual
Official bankruptcy forms at U.S. Courts page: 


Washington Corporate Forms
Mandatory Domestic Relations Forms, hard copy and online at: 

Jury Instructions

These are pattern or model instructions.  Lawyers and judges are encouraged to adapt and tailor them to fit the needs of each particular case. 

Federal Jury Instructions are general instructions and specific instructions for causes of action arising under federal statutes.  Certain circuits have created pattern instructions.  Others have not. 

O’Malley, Grenig & Lee, Federal Jury Practice and Instructions.  The first volume is background on history of jury, practice tips, and use of jury instructions.  The others are the instructions.  Westlaw (FED-JI). 

Other federal instructions include: 

Sand, et al., Modern Federal Jury Instructions
The Ninth Circuit Manual of Model Jury Instructions is online at: 

Washington Pattern Jury Instructions
Civil instructions are in volumes 6 and 6A of Washington Practice; criminal are in volumes 11 and 11A.  Criminal are called WPIC (wipick).  The instructions are prepared by the Washington Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions.  They do not unfortunately cover every subject..  If not, you can fall back on California jury instructions, other state instructions, or federal instructions, if appropriate.  Westlaw (WA-WPI) and (WA-WPIC).  Also in (WAPRAC).