Electronic Filing – Litigation in many, if not most courts, has become the norm for cases filed in the US as the Federal Courts and the Courts in most urban areas now require filing through some internet interface.
- Required in most courts – electronic filing is not an option. If you don’t have an electronic interface via the internet you really cannot participate effectively. You are basically ruled out in the three Circuit Courts in Metro Detroit for example, and all in the last several years, while the Federal Courts have required electronic filing for over 10 years.
- Rigors and limitations – the filer is forced to register, have a user name and password, required to access the Court’s website via the internet using a computer, and be in a position to receive a copy of the filing on an email service. So lawyers MUST use this service, this is not optional.
- Getting all staff to participate – not just the Lawyer, but many or all staff members need to be trained and have access to the internet and the Courts’ websites, though sometimes the Court’s system does not deliver the filing to all the users in the office, so one might need to forward on the filing to other staff members or risk that documents do not reside in the firm’s directories or calendars. This demands a series of intra-office protocols and awareness of how the various Courts’ electronic systems function.
- The Calendaring issue – many filings require responses or appearances, which require calendaring. Who receives the filings, how the filings are reviewed for the need to take further action on the calendar, creates a whole new vista of issues and protocols.
- History — The Old Way – it used to be that only the US Mail was the source of filings and communications from or to the Courts, with some necessary hand filings in clerk’s offices, i.e., the filing of a new lawsuit required an appearance at the clerk’s office with papers, summonses and checks in hand. While faxes made an impact requiring the modern lawyer to step up and purchase a fax machine with a dedicated phone line, the facsimile seems more of a blip on the screen of history, while things like internet fax were part of that “half step” towards the use of cloud and internet activities that have dominated not just law but most of the business and government world activities.
- The New Way – now everything has be to be filed via a website with user name and password. A lay person may be forgiven and allowed some leniency, but he will find himself acting “pro se” without the ability to compete unless he too becomes a registered user and takes advantage of the internet ease, and sometimes frustration, when systems are “down” or other technical problems make it impossible to participate in the Court systems.
- Throwing Bombs in the middle of the night – while many go to sleep at night, others stay up late and conjure all sorts of insidious and nefarious activities, emergency motions, responses, and other filings that greet the Lawyer upon awaking or when he/she finally goes online to find that the opposition has taken some action that requires response or reading before the hearing. There is no waiting, no time when things cannot be done, as the systems allow access “in the middle of the night”, so “no rest for the wicked”…..or the weary. Get ready and go ahead throw some bombs yourself when the opposition is home sleeping.