E-filing or electronic filing involves converting records from paper into electronic format. Once the existing paper records and legal documents are converted to digital format, all further transactions should be made digital to make the system more efficient and productive. Under this system, all pleadings and filing of court documents are filed electronically to allow fast and simultaneous access to the required records. Digitization and e-filing are advantageous for legal professionals in a variety of ways.
Advantages of E-Filing for Legal Professionals
- For judges, it is a reliable method for accessing documents. It provides an enhanced and efficient method for searching documents and allows them to have mobile judging from anywhere where there is internet access.
- For clerks, it is a cost-effective means for retrieving, processing, and maintaining documents. Moreover, they benefit from reduced postage and handling costs, reduced data entry time while creating cases and docketing pleadings and reduced chances for misplaced/lost files.
- E-filing is more economic for attorneys, as travel cost to the court house, courier cost, mailing cost, and service cost can be considerably reduced. The system not only provides attorneys an inexpensive means to file documents with the courts but also reduces the maintenance cost associated with paper at their offices.
Other advantages of electronic conversion and filing of judicial documents are:
- Documents can be moved more rapidly and less expensively than traditional paper-based system
- Eliminates majority of paper court document processing and tracking
- Reduces foot traffic in courthouse offices
- More cost effective and convenient than paper-based file storage system
- Overheads of searching documents and space for paper storage can be reduced considerably
- Computers can search for and locate keywords easily in digitized court record system
Implementing an e-filing system improves the overall efficiency of any court record management system. The Jackson County Friend of the Court and Jackson County Prosecutor’s office having implemented e-filing system in 2008 and 2012 respectively are examples of legal firms (in the county itself) having benefited from improved communication and effective services.
Digitization Process on at Jackson County Clerk’s Office
A recent report says that Jackson County Clerk’s Office is moving towards a paperless record keeping system, encouraged by the advantages gained by digitization at Jackson County Prosecutor’s office. They have adapted the electronic-based filing system for digital conversion of vital election and court documents.
The clerical staff has started scanning and indexing of paper files and records, while coping with the learning curve associated with the new software. With the new system, users are allowed to submit documents to the clerk’s office digitally over the internet without having to submit a physical copy at the county building. Moreover, attorneys will be able to get their signed orders and certified copies via email.
Apart from Jackson County, a lot of other counties in the state of Michigan are stepping towards e-filing projects, while some others are nearing the end of use for pilot programs. However, the transition seems to be somewhat time-consuming for Jackson County clerk’s office due to limited resources.
Situations such as limited resources or unavailability of best equipment can be nullified by associating with a reliable document scanning and conversion company. They have the capability for high quality data capture, service of experienced professionals, and document imaging facility from paper, microfilm and microfiche.