The legal world is (finally) catching up with many other areas of commerce. Today, we communicate via fax and email far more than traditional letters and couriers. Why shouldn’t legal filing follow the same vein? Efiling is gradually becoming the norm in California, and for good reason. Attorneys and their support staff enjoy significant benefits with efiling.
What is eFiling?
Efiling uses an electronic system to submit documents to the court. The clerks at the courthouse will generally approve the filing and then ensure that it gets to the right individuals at the courthouse, including the judge and any support staff. It also serves notice on all interested parties in the case as well.
Efiling is used instead of mailing out notices to interested parties or physically running documents to the courthouse to be filed. The entire process is much more streamlined, allowing the legal profession to move at a much faster pace.
Benefits of Efiling
There are many significant benefits to using an efiling system—for both law firms and the court system as a whole. Once you take a close look at the numerous benefits, it’s easy to see why courthouses across the country are moving efiling systems.
1. Cost Savings
Electronic filing saves costs for everyone involved. Parties no longer have to physically mail documents, which saves on both postage and paper. In some cases, the courthouse is no longer requiring that you send hard copies in duplicate to chambers for a judge’s review. Merely filing the document electronically satisfies submission requirements that would have taken up hours of your time in the past.
The court system has seen significant cost savings for those judicial systems that have switched to electronic filing. There is no need to retain physical copies of filed documents in many cases, either, which cuts down on costs related to document storage. Electronic filing has even permitted some law firms to go virtually paperless, which reduces overhead as well.
2. Easier Tracking
Many courts that have switched to electronic filing also have an electronic docket system. This system allows users to browse through all of the filed documents quickly and efficiently. Managing files that used to take up rooms can now be done entirely electronically. Some dockets are even searchable.
3. Virtually Instant Access
When you file a document with the court, it is reviewed and approved relatively quickly. There is no need to wait for a document to be returned to you in the mail if it is rejected. You will know right away if there is a problem with a filing. Then, the clerk can reject it electronically, so you can fix the error and resubmit it. Something that would have taken weeks before electronic filing can now be done in a matter of minutes. This creates far less worry about missing deadlines due to filing errors.
Notice of filing a document is also provided right away as well. As soon as the court approves it, the material is sent to everyone involved in the case. They have access to it via the efiling system so they can review it immediately. There is no concern about lost mail or slow delivery times. Most parties get access to the legal document days or weeks ahead of when they would have gotten it in the past.
4. No Physical Trip to the Courthouse
Law firms are becoming larger, and many have a regional or national scope. Today, you don’t need to have an office down the street from the courthouse because electronic filing has made it possible to file documents from virtually anywhere. A firm in California can submit documents in Iowa as long as they have been set up with efiling in the court system. There is no waiting on the mail, which allows firms to have more time to work on legal documents.
In some states, deadlines have been reduced due to efiling. The “three-day mailing rule” has been virtually wiped out in some jurisdictions—and efiling is to blame.
5. Faster Filing Means Faster Resolutions
When you can file documents quickly and receive notice right away when others submit documents, you can react faster to new developments in a case. There is no need to wonder whether a judge has made a decision because you will get notified as soon as something is filed. Clients can then take action on judicial decisions and information faster, which often leads to better results for everyone involved.
Once you get used to efiling, you will wonder how they used to move so slowly and get anything done in your firm. Efiling provides virtually instant access to information and allows the legal world to move as fast as its clients.