Mark Hatcher is the Clerk of the Western District of Washington’s Bankruptcy Court: “Two years before we went live [with electronic filing],” said Hatcher, “we did a study and found that on a daily basis, the court received about 11 feet of paper stacked from floor to ceiling. This included new petitions, chambers and trustee copies, proof of claim forms, and miscellaneous pleadings. We now estimate that our daily intake of paper is only about 2.5 feet.” Source: The Third Branch: Newsletter of the Federal Courts.
P.S. If you want a practice optimized for remote work & virtual collaboration, get this 24-page guide.
This post caught my eye, since I work on technology solutions for a legal document reprography company. Scanning and electronic document creation are no more expensive these days than traditional copying processes, and are quite often cheaper. The only truly necessary client-side software is free (Acrobat Reader), and the reduced strain on the legal system is priceless.
I’d liken fighting this change to someone running about with a bottle of Elmer’s trying to stop the Berlin Wall from coming down.
If the goal of our courts is to reduce the volume of paperwork then lets simply abolish the federal courts altogether and we will attain 100 percent efficiency. But if the goals of our courts is for justice then electronic filing fails. First it lessens a party’s choice of attorneys as many attorneys will not invest in the new software required for the occasional filing. Also many attorneys and their secretaries are not technologically confident and will err on the side of not getting involved as during the “training” in our district we were warned numerous times that our credit cards will be billed even for a mistake (it was nice having a live clerk that you could ask a question to or who would direct you to what kind of pleading was appropriate). Second technology costs money and the costs of electronic filing gets passed along to the clients in the form of higher fees. Justice should be affordable. While I am on the subject public records should belong to the public, but with electronic filing you are assesed a fee for every time you access a document (provided you can figure how to access PACER).