(reposted from September 19, 2008)
I saw an interesting article the other day that made me think about the way LexisNexis File & Serve does e-filing and e-service... and how everyone else “does” it... It was an article on e-filing ignorance that appeared on Texas Lawyer. It’s a good read and certainly highlights most of the reasons why e-filing is a chore to some and an Achilles heel to others. But, I think it missed one very important point.
The root of e-filing “ignorance” isn’t necessarily that the attorney neglected to take a court mandated training session or that he or she has relied on staff to proxy serve documents in the past - and now it’s an after-hours emergency.
Frequently, IT’S THE PROGRAM, STUPID!
Check out the web sites of many jurisdictions (... and District courts in particular if you’re partial to pain...). If the court’s web site offers direct e-filing or e-service, it’s frequently a home-grown program, or it’s an adulterated version of the federally approved CM/ECF system. You’ll need to know the nuances of EACH (yes, EACH) jurisdiction. Oh, and you’ll probably have different user names and passwords for each jurisdiction.
This is where LexisNexis File & Serve shines. You log into File & Serve once and you can file or serve different documents in different jurisdictions and change a client code for billing purposes for each transaction without logging out and logging back in. No matter the jurisdiction, the screens enabling your on-line filing or e-service look the same in ALL jurisdictions, are intuitive, and guide you through the process. Um…oh yeah, you don’t download software; you don’t pay a page retrieval fee for the documents in your case; and you get to select the case you’re filing or serving in BEFORE you tell the system what document you’re filing.
Many of the electronic filing systems out there require that you create a PDF of your documents before uploading them. File & Serve uploads the documents from your native application (Word or WordPerfect and many others) and converts it to PDF for you – a real savings if you can’t put Adobe on each workstation. And a hard disk space saver if you’ve ever scanned a document from your printer or copier into PDF before uploading to a court’s site…
Some electronic filing systems only allow one title for all of the documents uploaded in your single transaction?? What’s with that? DESTINATION: Docket Discombobulation.
And what if you have to go back and make changes during the upload process? You really won’t want to use an e-service that erases all of your work in each window as you click thru the Back button on your web browser to make a simple change, will you? (Rhymes with RACER…)
Can’t pick and choose the specific parties to be served from a single on-line service list? You’re probably not using LexisNexis File & Serve.
Do you actually have to file a PAPER document with the court to get your staff on the Alerts list of an ELECTRONIC case??? Yikes! You’re definitely not using LexisNexis File & Serve and you need to talk to us.
Knowing the differences between File & Serve and all of those other programs will convince you that LexisNexis File & Serve is Best in Class – so, next week: My Top 20 Questions You Should Ask An E-Service Provider.