If you entered the legal profession prior to this millennium, you likely remember how crucial the “court runner” was to your firm’s day-to-day operations. Whether they were serving documents on an opposing party or filing pleadings with a court clerk, court runners were an absolute necessity for getting documents where they needed to be in a timely fashion.
These days, however, most firms are finding they don’t need court runners at all. Even if your court is not yet eFiling, online filing services offer more speed, convenience, flexibility, and certainty than court runners ever could.
Don’t believe us? We’ve compiled the top 8 reasons the legal profession just doesn’t need court runners anymore.
#1 Document specialists provide better quality assurance
Even the best court runners can only be skilled at delivery, never experts on the documents themselves. So when you have an opportunity to get your documents in front of another pair of eyes, take it. Our document specialists spend time while assembling your documents to look out for common mistakes, cross-reference with top rejection reasons, and otherwise scan for structural or formatting issues. It’s delivery and review all in one service.
#2 Technology breeds flexibility
Need to serve your document on 13 different parties located in six different states all at the same time? In the past, that process was incredibly expensive and time-consuming. Legal teams would sometimes spend weeks finding court runners across the country and would often struggle to get them to coordinate service.
Online tools for arranging service can be as simple as adding personal or electronic service of process after submitting to the court. Service can be arranged anywhere in the country, on as many parties as you need, in as many places as you need. That flexibility translates to a lot less stress for your team and much lower costs for your clients.
#3 Documents are easily traced electronically
There was always a bit of panic that ensued when you handed a freshly-signed pleading off to a court runner. What if she got stuck in traffic and didn’t make it to court before the clerk’s window closed for the day? What if he rolled down the car windows and your motion for summary judgment ended up sprawled all over the highway? Sometimes using a court runner felt a bit like handing your baby off to a stranger.
With today’s online services, by contrast, your documents are traceable from the moment they leave your computer to the moment they reach the court and opposing counsel. In fact, some services even provide you with a courtesy email when your document reaches its intended destination. With this level of service, worry and guesswork are things of the past.
#4 Additional rejection prevention
While old-school court runners are usually empowered to do no more than deliver documents, the next era of online court services brings the intersection of document experts and court filing. Our One Legal filers wait at the clerk’s window with your filing and do what they can to fix any issues to avoid rejection.
Hearing date unavailable? Incorrect case number? Insufficient fees? Our representatives will call you from the courthouse to confirm any changes needed to complete the filing successfully
#5 No need to schedule your day around a pick-up
The use of court runners always created additional time pressure and false deadlines. If a document needed to be filed by 5 p.m., you would typically schedule a definitive pick-up—and that would be your one chance to file for that day.
When using an online court filing service, filing can be more flexible. You’ll still have to work around deadlines, but rather than a two-minute window, you can choose your filing submission according to your schedule. And there’s no need to schedule a court runner ahead of time.
#6 The world has gone paperless
Let’s face it: court runners may as well have been called “paper runners.” Their entire job was to get pieces of paper from one place to another safely. Depending on the legal filing, they might be delivering multiple copies of massive documents that amounted to reams and reams of paper.
While many courts still require paper documents, using an online court filing service means that you no longer have to deal with all that paper on your end! No more printing, noticing a typo, fixing it, reprinting, making another change, and printing again.
Paperless law offices have become a major trend in the industry; has your firm moved toward paperless filing processes?
#7 Alternate document retrieval
Aside from filing and serving documents, court runners were frequently called upon to retrieve documents from the court. Whether you wanted to scour briefs filed by an adverse party in another case or simply retrieve a copy of a misplaced pleading, the best way to do that was have a runner drive down to the court, stand in line, and wait for copies to be made so he could bring them back to you.
What if the same service that eliminated your need for court runners to file for you also offered cost-effective online services to research and retrieve documents from any court anywhere in the country? These providers could have the documents you needed on your desktop within a day, either electronically or in paper form.
#8 “Fax filing” still works
Finally, even the least tech-savvy courts generally accept “fax filings”. As far as the court is concerned, any documents that were transmitted digitally in any way (such as uploaded onto an online platform such as One Legal’s) is considered “fax filed,” without the “wet” signature.
But there’s no need to keep a fax machine on hand anymore—especially since most courts are not able to or do not prefer to receive documents that way. The modern solution is to file through a service like One Legal which quickly takes documents received via email and files it with the appropriate court.
Technology has undeniably changed the practice of law. Yet another evolution is an obviated need for traditional court runners. Your firm can now do better.
What changes have you seen or do you hope to see with the use of an online service provider? Share your experiences in the comments.