Lawyers, courts and legal cases generate mountains of paperwork. Paper files in courts are in its stage of retirement, with more and more initiatives taken by legal firms, offices and courts to digitize files. From July 1, 2016, the Indiana Supreme Court has made it mandatory for attorneys in all Indiana appellate courts and in the Hamilton County Circuit and Superior Courts to electronically file all pleadings as well as pending cases. The Court has initiated a statewide e-filing system that will allow cases to be filed entirely online, reducing the need for costly paper copies, postage and trips to the clerk’s office. It is anticipated that e-filing will be implemented statewide by the end of 2018.
While e-filing is a method of filing documents with the clerk of any Indiana court by electronic transmission utilizing the Indiana E-Filing System, it does not include transmission by facsimile or by email. Attorneys in these courts must use the internet to file their documents and serve them on the other attorneys in the case.
Attorneys will receive service copies of filings through the mail, and they can tender their filings at any time and from anywhere they have an internet connection. This technology helps them avoid the process of taking printouts of filings, making multiple copies, and then rushing to the courthouse before it closes or to a post office box before the dayâ€™s last pick up. To e-file, attorneys must first choose an electronic filing service providerthat provides the interface attorneys use to interact with the Indiana Electronic Filing System (â€śIEFSâ€ť).
Other counties are also adopting the system. Columbia County Circuit Court is taking a big step toward becoming completely paperless. Starting August 1, 2016, this Circuit Court will become next in line of Wisconsin state courts to make court filings through an online e-filing system. Using e-signatures and the scanning of documents, the court has gone paperless in small claims a couple of years ago.
Most legal files need to be retained for long periods of time. Several legal firms are now considering document scanning and electronic data capture services that help to capture, store and share relevant information along with saving space on physical file storage and enhancing file security and confidentiality.