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The State of E-Filing and What It Means For Your Business

When looking at the horizon of what's next in legal support, e-filing and e-service is always a part of the conversation. It's a concept that has been around for some time, and in this panel, participants delve into the history as well as the latest in what's happening with e-filing and e-service.

This panel, "The state of eFiling and eService, and what it means for your business." was presented during ServeCon 2015 and is now available in full.

The State of eFiling and eService and What It Means For Your Business

Learn more about e-filing and e-service, which states and countries are leading the charge, and what changes to expect in the coming months and years.

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Panel Participants

Mark Schwartz, Program Manager, Justice Group, One Legal, LLC

As Program Manager for One Legal’s Justice Group, Mark is responsible for the direction, coordination and implementation of new and existing court eFiling and eService projects.

He has over 35 years of experience in the legal support profession and did his first court filing at the age of 13. He is a former president and legislative chairman of the California Association of Legal Support Professionals and is a recipient of its highest honor, The Bert Rosenthal Memorial Award, for furthering and fostering the legal support profession.

Mark is a paralegal and is a subject matter expert on California service of process statutes and case law and California Rules of Court regarding eFiling and eService. He is also one of the developers of the CALSPro Certified Process Server program.

David Nill, Founder, President and CEO Rapid Legal, Inc.

Three decades later, David still fervently believes; good is never good enough. Guided by his company's mission to propel the legal industry forward through web-based technology, David is determined to transform the legal landscape. Whether he's collecting feedback from customers, tweaking Rapid Legal's portal to streamline the ordering process or driving legislative change for the benefit of courts, law firms, and litigants; one thing's for sure, you'll always find David thinking of ways to harness the power of technology to simplify the lives of legal professionals.

Alan Carlson, Court Executive Officer Orange County Superior Court

Alan Carlson has over 37 years of experience working in state and local justice systems across the country and internationally. He currently serves as the chief executive officer of the Orange County Superior Court, one of the largest state trials courts in the country. His duties include clerk of court, court administrator, and jury commissioner. He previously served as the CEO in San Francisco Superior Court, the executive officer and jury commissioner in Monterey Superior Court, and the assistant executive officer and jury commissioner in Alameda Superior Court. Other positions held included president of the Justice Management Institute (JMI), director of court services in the California Administrative Office of the Courts, and staff attorney of the National Center for State Courts. Mr. Carlson holds a JD degree from Hastings College of Law and a BS degree from the University of California at Berkeley.

Snorri Ogata, Chief Information Officer Superior Court of CA, Los Angeles County

Snorri Ogata is the Chief Information Officer for the Los Angeles County Superior Court where he is responsible for the Court’s overall information technology efforts in support of 530 judicial officers, 4,500 employees, and 40 locations. He joined the Court as the CIO in January 2014. Most recently Snorri was the CIO for the Orange County (CA) Superior Court and has over 30 years of IT experience in a variety of industries. Snorri is also on the Board of Directors for the Court Information Technology Officer Consortium and chairs the CITOC Education Sub-committee.

Casey Kennedy, Director of Information Services Texas Office of Court Administration

Casey Kennedy guides a staff that provides direct IT services to the Supreme Court of Texas, Court of Criminal Appeals, the 14 intermediate appellate courts, and 5 judicial branch agencies.

Mr. Kennedy is also the lead OCA staff for the Judicial Committee on Information Technology, or JCIT. The committee is appointed by the Supreme Court and makes recommendations and sets standards for court technology in Texas. He is currently on the executive board of the Court Information Technology Officer Consortium, a national organization of Court IT professionals, and last year placed first in the court technology “geek-off” competition at the national Court Technology Conference. He holds a BA in computer science from The University of Texas at Austin.

Jim McMillan, Principle Court Technology Consultant National Center for State Courts

Jim McMillan joined the National Center for State Courts in October 1990 and currently serves as a Principle Court Technology Consultant.

Mr. McMillan is senior faculty for the Institute for Court Management and has provided technical assistance for trial and appellate courts and administrative offices in all 50 states in the USA. Notable consulting projects include the United States Supreme Court, Arkansas, and Massachusetts Supreme Court, and statewide court automation projects with Rhode Island, Maine, New Jersey, and South Carolina.

Internationally, Mr. McMillan has provided expertise to courts in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bahamas, Croatia, Egypt, Trinidad & Tobago, Serbia, Ukraine, Russia, and the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal.

As Director of the Court Technology Laboratory for eleven years, he was the co-recipient of the Howell Heflin Outstanding Project Award from the State Justice Institute and was co-founder of Courtroom 21 with the College of William and Mary School of Law.

He is co-author of A Guidebook for Electronic Court Filing and a contributing author to Caseflow Management: The Heart of Court Management in the New Millennium.

Panel Overview

Mark Schwartz, Program Manager and Justice Group for One Legal, LLC and moderator of the panel introduces the panel topic of e-filing and e-service and puts the terms in context.

When we talk about e-service with e-filing we're referring to e-notice or e-delivery, for example, service on opposing counsel. We're not necessarily referring to service of primary documents like summons and complaints.

Mark Schwartz, Program Manager, Justice Group, One Legal, LLC

Mark has been in "this crazy legal support world of ours" for some time. He is a former court runner, process server, office manager, and small business owner.

In Mark's over 30 years of experience in legal support, he can reminisce about written dockets, pagers with no displays, 10 cent phone calls on payphones, and two-way radios. Now, continued technological advancement has led Mark to moderate this panel on e-filing and e-service.

Mark guides the conversation as court officers, a court information officer, a technology consultant for courts on the national level, and a fellow process server discuss the latest developments in e-filing and e-service as well as its advantages.

Mandatory E-filing in Orange County

Alan Carlson, Court Executive Officer for Orange County Superior Court, walks through the latest in e-filing and e-service in Orange County.

As of January 2013, e-filing is mandatory for civil, probate, and mental health cases in Orange County, California. . . What we found was that if it was all voluntary we only got about 25% compliance from attorneys. The other attorneys kept sending or delivering the paper to the courthouse.

Alan Carlson, Court Executive Officer for Orange County Superior Court

Alan discusses the history and system for e-filing and e-service in Orange County. The goal in Orange County is to get to an all-electronic court record. E-filing allows the data to get into the system so that everything is electronic all the way through.

The county began with e-delivery through email for complex cases with many parties and documents. At the request of attorneys, the system was made mandatory. Now, with a true e-filing system, the documents and information are taken through the court's portal and document management system. The program was piloted with complex cases and then offered for personal injury cases and contract cases.

A Statewide Mandate in Texas

Director of Information Services at the Texas Office of Court Administration Casey Kennedy discusses e-filing and e-service in Texas.

When we had e-filing become mandatory in 2014, our Supreme Court did an e-filing mandate where the most populus counties had to go first.

Casey Kennedy, Director of Information Services at the Texas Office of Court Administration

Documents are actually stored in the court, so each county has its own case management system, and most do so electronically.

E-filing is run the exact same way as it is done in California, however, in Texas, the e-filing manager is statewide rather than by county. 22,000 to 23,000 documents flow through Texas' system every day, with most coming through between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m.

Cities within Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and Houston County were all subjected to mandatory e-filing in Texas first, and for civil cases. It was only required for attorneys and not for self-represented litigants, though Texas does have two electronic filing portals that cater to those groups.

How E-Filing is Implemented Elsewhere in California

Snorri Ogata, Chief Information Officer for the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County, discusses technology, e-filing, and e-service in Los Angeles County.

There's lots of movement in the court space toward new case management systems. I think part of it is no doubt driven by the ROI that's available from e-filing.

Snorri Ogata, Chief Information Officer for the Superior Court of California Los Angeles County

50% of the 58 counties in California have entered into contracts to replace their case management systems. As courts go live with these new systems they are under enormous internal pressure to stand up to e-filing.

Overall, there is heightened activity in California surrounding e-filing. As the trial courts start to explore e-filing individually, the state starts to take notice and works to figure out what relative role they should play in this.

Snorri explains that in the last couple of months even small counties north of Orange County have gone live with e-filing.

E-Filing and E-Service on an International Level

Jim McMillan, Principle Court Technology Consultant for the National Center of State Courts and a member of the center's national division, discusses e-filing, e-service, and court systems throughout the world.

A lot of the issues revolving around e-filing and noticing has to do with whether or not a person is known or verified in the electronic world.

Jim McMillan, Principle Court Technology Consultant at the National Center of State Courts

In 1989, Austria became the first country to implement e-filing using dial-up systems. They set up a centralized email system that attorneys and filers were members of. Austria is still serving notice using their email system because they know that when you're sending notice to another attorney you will do so using that system.

That idea was recently taken to Nigeria for a contract with Microsoft to eventually put 70,000 attorneys in the country onto a verified, single, court-controlled email service that connects to their mobile phone through text messaging and SMS.

A Process Server's Perspective on E-Filing and E-Service

David Nill, the Founder, President, and CEO of Rapid Legal, Inc., gives his take on e-filing and e-service as an active member of the process serving industry.

Is technology bad? I believe the answer is no, but how comfortable someone may feel may change that answer to yes.

David Nill, Founder, President, and CEO of Rapid Legal, Inc.

David explains that technology can be scary and uncomfortable if the individual feels overwhelmed, incapable of using the software, or doesn't have any choices.

He encourages other process servers to become part of the process and embrace technology, but also acknowledges that making the leap into the electronic world is not without its frustrations.

"Change is not easy. Making the leap from offering traditional services to also offering electronic services is not easy," he says. "The key to making this a reality is for you and your company to buy in yourself and then getting all the stakeholders in the system to buy into that reality that technology is not a bad thing and that you can use it for your benefit."

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