State courts are increasingly following the example of the federal courts and moving to require electronic filing.
Just look at the changes underway in the nation’s two largest states, Texas and California. In Texas, it will soon be mandatory to eFile in every local court in the state while, in California, 12 superior courts currently require eFiling and, by the end of 2017, eFiling will be required by more than half.
Electronic filing has many advantages, especially in terms of time, cost, and convenience. It is, however, a little different from the paper-based system it replaces and, as is often the case where legal professionals are involved, has its own jargon and language.
To get you started transitioning to the electronic world, here are the most frequently asked questions.
#1 What is electronic court filing?
An electronic court filing (called an eFiling) is simply the electronic submission of a court document from your computer to the court’s case management system. Rather than having to deliver your filing to the court window physically, when you eFile it is sent via a secure internet connection directly to the court. Once received, a clerk will review it. Once accepted, the filing is added to an online docket for your case via which you’ll be able to view and access your filings.
#2 What’s electronic service?
Electronic service (eService) is the electronic delivery of subsequent filings and other case documents to other parties. When you eServe you send documents electronically, either via email (though that’s not recommended because of the security risks) or via an eService platform like One Legal. Your documents are stored online, and the other service parties are sent a secure access link.
#3 What is an EFSP?
EFSP stands for Electronic Filing Service Provider. These are the websites via which you can securely upload your documents and have them safely transmitted to the court. There are a few to choose between. The key is to make sure that you use one that is, like One Legal, certified by the court, quick and easy to use, and has a good reputation for being safe and secure. Learn more about choosing an EFSP>>
#4 Does eFiling mean changing how a document is prepared?
Yes, but only a little. You almost certainly already prepare your filings in a word processor like Word or WordPerfect. You can simply upload these documents to One Legal, and we’ll automatically convert them into the PDF format the court requires. However, for longer filings, it is recommended that you save your documents as PDF yourself, remove metadata, and add a few features — such as the electronic bookmarking of exhibits — to improve readability. What constitutes a “court friendly” PDF, though? Here’s a quick guide>>
#5 How do I know if/where eFiling is required and where it is not?
In some jurisdictions, such as Texas, almost all courts require eFiling. In others, such as California, the picture is a bit more complicated. Some California courts require eFiling, while others still require physical delivery. You can simplify your work by choosing a service, like One Legal, that files electronically where available and physically delivers on your behalf elsewhere while still permitting you to upload your documents via a single website. Don’t worry; we’ll let you know from the start how your filing is being handled.
#6 How do I pay fees when eFiling?
Fees, including court filing fees (such as first appearance fees), court technology fees (charges from the court to fund their implementation of eFiling), and EFSP service fees are usually charged per filing. Most service providers will immediately charge these to your credit card. One Legal, on the other hand, pays all fees in advance and sends a single, itemized invoice at the end of each transaction.