Cook County gets extension on mandatory eFiling

Cook County will have six more months to prepare for mandatory electronic filing of civil cases, according to an Illinois Supreme Court order issued Friday.

After filing a request for a one-year extension (PDF) to the state’s January 1 mandatory eFiling deadline earlier this month, Clerk Dorothy Brown was met in the middle by the state’s highest court.

By May 1, 2018, Cook County must permit filings for all civil case types to be made on Odyssey eFileIL, the new standard court-side filing platform being rolled out across Illinois. By July 1, the county must make electronic filing of those case types mandatory, refusing to accept filings made on paper.

Click here to read the Illinois Supreme Court’s full response (PDF) to Cook County’s eFiling extension request.

The Supreme Court showed a willingness to compromise, “given the late submission…and in light of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s assertion that the existing e-filing system is not able to accept e-filing of all civil cases.”

However, it also stepped up pressure on the nation’s third-largest trial court to meet the new deadlines. The order assigns a representative of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts to attend future implementation meetings between Clerk Brown’s office and Tyler Technologies, the vendor that built the eFileIL platform.

Doesn’t Cook County already have eFiling?

Yes. In 2013, Clerk Brown’s office contracted with US Courts to launch a public eFiling portal solely for Cook County on the Clerk’s website. The portal was financed by technology fees assessed by the court, and used by everyone from pro se filers to large firms that make filings in high volume.

Recognizing that different filers require different capabilities, Illinois has taken a different approach with Odyssey eFileIL. The platform allows users to choose their own filing experience from nine certified eFiling service providers (EFSPs)–including One Legal–offering varying levels of service and value. By July 1, these EFSPs will be capable of filing documents with any court in the state.

Until eFileIL is up and running in Cook County, the clerk’s portal will be the only way to electronically file cases.

Will I have to use Odyssey eFileIL to file in Cook County after July 1?

No. Some filers may be confused by the fact that Tyler Technologies uses the same “Odyssey eFileIL” logo and name to describe both the eFiling system the courts use and its own EFSP portal for filers.

Tyler’s EFSP allows for basic filing and serving without a service charge, but it generates revenue through a 3% credit card transaction fee. It also omits some key features for frequent filers, like a billing/invoicing center, concierge filing services and the ability to order physical service of process.

What happens in Cook County between now and summer 2018?

The county is currently running a pilot program with limited case types in the County Division. Clerk Brown’s office has stated that it will continue to test eFileIL in the coming months, slowly making it available to individual divisions of the court.

Here are the important deadlines:

April 1, 2018

  • The County Division must fully integrate its case management system with eFileIL.
  • All civil case types that are not currently e-filed must be able to be filed on eFileIL.

May 1, 2018

  • All case types that are currently e-filed using the county clerk’s portal must be able to be filed on eFilelL (includes cases in Chancery, Child Support, Civil, Domestic Relations, Elder Law and Miscellaneous Remedies, Law, and Probate divisions).
  • eFiling through eFilelL must be available to all filers across the state, without restrictions.

July 1, 2018

  • eFiling of all civil case types becomes mandatory in Cook County.

What’s happening in other Illinois counties?

Most other counties in Illinois are already up and running on the new eFileIL platform. To see where eFileIL service providers can be used, check out One Legal’s running list of active courts.

To learn more about Illinois’ statewide transition to electronic filing and what it means for law firms, register to attend our Jan. 9 CLE with the Chicago Bar Association, “How to Prepare for Mandatory eFiling with One Legal,” in-person or online. You can also read more in One Legal’s 2018 Illinois eFiling Readiness Kit below.

Download Illinois kit

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About the Author

Alex Braun is One Legal’s marketing campaign manager for the Midwest. He enjoys cycling and amateur filmmaking and lives in Chicago (even during the winter).

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