Plagiarism and the Law

Thanks to the internet, it is possible to search and download a template for almost anything. In some cases, you may even be able to download an actual document. However, when it comes to legal documents, can using a template be considered plagiarism? If so, what can you do to avoid plagiarizing a document? Keep reading to learn more.

What Is Plagiarism?

According to the Legal Information Institute, plagiarism is defined as “the act of taking a person’s original work and presenting it as if it were one’s own.” In other words, plagiarism occurs when one party takes intellectual property or original works and takes credit for their creation.

In most cases, plagiarism is not illegal but can come with serious penalties. For students, plagiarism could be punishable by academic probation or even suspension. In the professional world, claiming credit for another person’s work can lead to resentment and disciplinary action especially if the work was of high value, for a client, or resulted in an award of some kind.

While most people are exposed to plagiarism via their university’s official policy, copying another’s work in some instances could be a crime. For example, if plagiarism infringes on an author’s copyright, trademark, or patent they may pursue legal action. Similarly, if plagiarism breaches a contract the individual accused of it could be disciplined or face legal action from their employer.

Can You Plagiarize a Legal Document?

As mentioned previously, legal documents of all kinds are available on the internet. If a small business owner attempts to cut out legal costs by printing off a draft of their own using a real document, they could be accused of plagiarism or infringement.

Copying a legal document, regardless of who else may be doing so may put you at risk. Copyright infringement is a serious accusation and while most people may not pursue legal action, some individuals may choose to do so.


One way to avoid legal document plagiarism is by using a designated template website. There are hundreds of free to use template websites that are available for an affordable price or even for free. However, the best way to avoid plagiarism and copyright conflicts is to hire an attorney. Drafting a contract or legal document can be complicated and it's best to entrust the process to a licensed attorney.

In addition to entrusting your legal documents to an attorney, it is vital that you store your documents properly. Whether you store information digitally or otherwise, Acro Photo Print Inc. can help. Contact us today!