By Ken Fox
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in eight years as a law librarian, it’s that every lawyer loves O’Brien’s Encyclopedia of Forms. And as the purpose of such an encyclopedia is to save you work in creating documents, it follows that you must like O’Brien’s Internet even more, as it provides the entire O’Brien’s collection of first draft legal forms as Word documents.
Do you use O’Brien’s Internet? If not, you probably should. Here are a few pointers in using our province-wide subscription.
The way I see it, there are two ways into our O’Brien’s subscription. You can browse the Table of Contents – it’s the tab at the far left:
The Table of Contents is easy to use – just keep clicking on the little plus signs beside the most relevant headings, and eventually you’ll find lists of useful documents in the center pane.
Note that each of the main titles has both a TABLE OF CONTENTS and an INDEX – so if you don’t find what you are looking for browsing the contents, you might try looking for key terms in the A-Z indices.
In the screenshot above, you will also see three Search Templates. Our online subscription does not include the Master Subject Index. The Form Finder is useful when you know the number of the form you are looking for (possibly from looking at the print version).
But my preferred way of finding forms in O’Brien’s Internet is to use the “Boolean” search template, where you can find forms using search queries.
First, know your operators – the operators appear in a table just below the Boolean Search box. If you enter two or more terms with no operators between them, the search engine will look only for documents with both (or all) of your terms. You can also use “&” or the word “and.” The word “or” works as the OR operator, which searches for either of two or more synonymous terms, like “agriculture or farming” – but don’t use quote marks in your search unless you want to limit to an exact phrase, like “acceleration on default.” Use the asterisk (*) as your multiple character wildcard – for example, “arbitrat*” (without the quote marks) will call up documents including the words “arbitrate,” “arbitrator,” “arbitration,” etc. There are other operators, but those are the ones that I use most often.
Once you get your search results, you may want to refine your search or do some further browsing. Navigating O’Brien’s Internet is a lot easier if you learn how to use the row of buttons at the top of the central pane –
The first two buttons allow you to edit your search, or return from a document to your search results. Those two buttons are not working today, but my browser’s “Back” button seems to work well enough. I assume Thomson Reuters will resolve that bug quickly.
The fifth button from the left, the left-right arrows, allows you to “synchronize” your search results with the Table of Contents – this is very helpful if you find a useful document and want to see what other forms are around it in the encyclopedia’s contents. The “TOC” button beside it simply returns you to the Table of Contents afresh. Third from the right is a button that shows you the “path” to the current document, or the hierarchy of headings in the encyclopedia it falls under. The final two buttons on the right-hand side are for printing and saving, but my preference is to pull up the documents in Word, and use the printing and saving features there.
The Law Society’s subscription to O’Brien’s Internet covers the following divisions of O’Brien’s Encyclopedia:
- Division I – Commercial and General
- Division II – Corporations
- Division III – Leases
- Division V – Wills and Trusts
- Division VII – Labour Relations and Employment
- Division IX – Municipal Corporations
- Division X – Computers and Information Technology
If you are creating legal forms in any of those topic areas, you would do well to make friends with O’Brien’s Internet. For further information or research assistance, contact the library.
UPDATE (June 13): Apparently Thomson Reuters’ product development team read Legal Sourcery (who doesn’t?), and have already fixed the problems with the Edit Search and Return to Search Results buttons referenced above. Thanks TR!