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Washington Practice Materials

Updated Nov. 6, 2014.
Prepared by Nancy McMurrer; updated by Melia Mauer Cossette, Reference Intern; Mary Whisner (2011); and Cheryl Nyberg (2012-14).

"Practice materials" are written by lawyers for use by other lawyers. They are used extensively in the practice of law. Practice materials are characterized by their "nuts and bolts" approach to legal issues. They usually focus on the law as it exists, with advice and tips for how to deal with real-life legal problems.

These secondary materials often include forms or checklists and they are useful when looking for the most recent information in a particular practice area. In addition, these materials are often a great place to turn to when beginning research in an unfamiliar area of law.

New! The Law Library now offers online access to the WSBA deskbooks to people who visit the Library. See Deskbooks for more information about the deskbooks.

For a helpful overview of Washington practice materials, see Chapter 4, Practice Materials of the Washington Legal Researcher's Deskbook 3d, written by Gallagher Law Library Reference Librarians. KFW75.W37 2002 at Reference Area & Reference Office.

This guide includes links to sources available on LexisNexis and Westlaw. You must have an individual password to access these services. The Gallagher Law Library does not have a subscription to either of these services for members of the public.

EncyclopediasWashington Practice

Washington Practice. KF80.W3 at Reference Area & Westlaw: WAPRAC

A comprehensive multi-volume set covering topics such as civil procedure, contracts, evidence, family law, and tort law.
Practitioners will also find pattern jury instructions and single-volume handbooks designed for taking to the courtroom.

Washington Lawyers Practice Manual. KFW80.W27 at Reference Area. Electronic version: Terminals 26-28 in the Reference Area (access via the Start menu)

A 5-volume looseleaf set published by the King County Bar Association. Chapters include Real Property Practice and Business Law Practice. [Table of contents]
The set includes sample forms. Authored by practicing attorneys, this set is sometimes more practice-oriented than Washington Practice.



Two types of forms are commonly used in the practice of law: transactional forms (contracts, wills, etc.) and litigation-related forms (practice and procedure).

Contracts, Wills, Real Estate & Business

See the Gallagher guide on Drafting Contracts: Formbooks and Drafting Resources for a comprehensive resource on transactional forms.

King County Law Library provides links to selected Washington State forms.

Practice & Procedure (Complaints, Motions & Pleadings)

Washington Practice Series: Civil Procedure Forms and Commentary. KFW80 .W3 v9-10A 2000 at Reference Area & Westlaw

Westlaw eforms: Washington State Courts and Agencies:

Washington Courts website includes forms on the dissolution of marriage, child custody and support, protective orders, parenting plans, juvenile court matters, criminal matters, and several other topics.

King County Law Library provides links to selected Washington State forms.

For additional Washington state resources, see the Gallagher guide on Civil Procedure Research Resources.


DeskbooksFamily Law Desbook from the Washington State Bar Association

Subject-specific books written by local experts are great sources for those practicing in the state. They cover diverse subjects such as environmental law, family law, criminal law, etc. Some of these treatises are called "deskbooks."

Many, though not all, of the Washington-specific deskbooks are published by the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) and are written under the auspices of its Continuing Legal Education (CLE) or particular practice-area committees. A list of WSBA deskbooks can be found on its website, along with the table of contents for each.

New! The Law Library now offers online access to the WSBA deskbooks to people who visit the Library.

Other Washington-specific deskbooks are published by LexisNexis.

In the Gallagher Law Library, current Washington-specific deskbooks are found in the Reference Area. Popular titles include:

  • Washington Real Property Deskbook (WSBA). KFW112.W37
  • Washington Family Law Deskbook (WSBA). KFW94.W37
  • The Law of Evidence in Washington (LexisNexis). KFW540 .A97
  • Employment in Washington: A Guide to Employment Laws, Regulations and Practices (LexisNexis). KFW331.Z9 L38 1998

LexisNexis deskbooks are available on LexisNexis.


Court Rules

The latest editions of the print sources listed below are in the Reference Area. Earlier editions are in the Classified Stacks.


Among the rules used statewide are those dealing with appellate procedure, attorney and judicial conduct, and evidence.

Rules Practice. KFW80.W3 v. 2-4B & Westlaw

Washington Rules of Court Annotated. KFW529.A197

Washington Court Rules Annotated. KFW529.A196

Washington Courts website. Rules updates are also be found in the Washington Reports advance sheets.


Includes the rules of superior, district, and municipal courts.

Washington Court Rules: Local Rules. KFW529.A198 Local

Local rules for the King County Superior Court

Washington Courts website includes court rules for municipal, district, and superior courts.



Benchbooks are guides used by trial judges during litigation. For example, there is a benchbook for judges of district and municipal courts that covers procedures in criminal trial -- for example, Criminal Benchbook, Courts of Limited Jurisdiction, KFW583.5.W37 at Reference Area.

See Chapter 4, Practice Materials in the Washington Legal Researcher's Deskbook 3d, KFW75.W37 at Reference Area & Reference Office, for descriptions of other benchbooks. Or, search the Law Library catalog by keywords "washington state and benchbook" for more titles.

Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Materialsind.JPG

Attorneys in Washington are required to devote a specific number of hours to continuing education seminars. Printed materials assembled for the CLE programs are designed to help practitioners stay current with legal developments, so they can be an excellent resource for up-to-date practice information. Search the Law Library catalog for titles that may be of interest.


The catalog of the Public Law Library of King County indexes recent CLEs. You can search for a presenter or an individual chapter in published CLE materials.

The WSBA's online bookstore identifies recent CLEs. When you find one you want, search the Law Library's online catalog to learn if the Library owns a copy.

CLEDEX: The Index to Continuing Legal Education Materials in Washington. KFW61.C54 at Reference Area
Although it is no longer published, this title is helpful in finding older CLE materials. It indexes individual chapters in Washington CLE materials published between 1984 and 1999.



For a list of daily and weekly newspapers in Washington, see the Washington State Yearbook. JK9230.W38 at Reference Area & Reference Office. Current issues of several of these daily or weekly newspapers are available through


See also the Gallagher guide on Washington State News Sources Online, which lists newspapers on LexisNexis, Westlaw, and other online sources.


Bar Association Journals & Newsletters

Bar journal and section newsletters are published monthly or quarterly. They can be useful sources of information on current legal developments.

NW Lawyer (formerly, Washington State Bar News). KF332.W3W3542, current issues at Reference Area & HeinOnline (UW Restricted)

De Novo. WSBA Young Lawyers Division. KF332.W3W359d, current issues at Reference Area

Bar Bulletin. King County Bar Association. KF334.S4S4196, current issues at Reference Area

Sections of the Washington State Bar Association publish newsletters, for example, the Environmental & Land Use Law News Letter, KF332.W3 W359e at Classified Stacks. Descriptions of the WSBA sections are available at its website. Representative titles include:

  • Animal Law Section Newsletter. KFW370.A15W39 at Classified Stacks
  • Criminal Law Section Newsletter. KF332.W3W359crm at Classified Stacks
  • Real Property, Probate & Trust Newsletter. KF332.W3W359r at Classified Stacks


Websites & Blogs

Government and organizations websites provide legal information and sometimes forms. Here are a few examples:

The Business Licensing Service summarizes types of business structures and provides a guide to the Business License Application.

The Department of Labor and Industries outlines employment rules for people who are Running a Business.

The Growth Management Hearing Boards' website includes a handbook called Practicing Before the Growth Management Hearings Boards for Washington State (March 2013).

The Washington Courts offer an Appellate Case Processing Model, including sample forms.Municipal Research & Services Center of Washington

The Municipal Research and Services Center, which serves Washington cities and towns, has publications on local government law, including public records and government contracts. Many can be downloaded or viewed online free.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has a national Open Government Guide, including a chapter on Washington prepared by two Seattle attorneys.

Washington LawHelp is provided as a public service by the Northwest Justice Project in collaboration with other legal aid providers in the Alliance for Equal Justice and the Washington courts. Its guides are aimed at people who do not have lawyers -- but lawyers too can often benefit from the straightforward explanations of topics such as debt collection, dissolution, foreclosure, the Indian Child Welfare Act, living wills, Medicaid, and unemployment compensation. The guides might not be the end of your research, but they are reliable, accessible starting points.

Many lawyers use blogs to keep up with new developments. See the Gallagher guide on Law-Related Blogs in Washington State. Some blogs cover little news items (arrests or accidents) or are not frequently updated. Others analyze recent cases and legislation and provide links to helpful resources and can be very useful to lawyers.


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