Electronic court filing and all its related processes and rules can be a major challenge for lawyers and their firms. Fortunately, there are some resources to help them, with more on the way.
Bar Board of Governors member Laird Lile, a member of the Florida Courts Technology Commission, said the best way for lawyers to begin preparing to the day when e-filing is required is to start now.
“Don’t wait until it’s mandatory,” he said. “Lawyers ought to take advantage of the optional period that I’m sure the courts are going to give us, so when the day gets here and it’s mandatory, it’s business as usual.”
The primary resource is the Internet portal through which the e-filing system will run. The portal can be found at www.myflcourtaccess.com/ and offers a step-by-step process for registering to e-file. Anyone wanting to e-file now should contact their local court clerk and most e-filing is being done voluntarily to test the system.
The Florida Courts E-filing Authority, which runs the portal, also has a website, www.flclerks.com/eFiling_authority.html. That site has an explanatory video of the portal and how it works, currently located at the lower right hand corner of the homepage. That will soon be replaced by an instructional video on e-filing.
Part of electronic filing is a requirement, in Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420, that lawyers identify confidential information in the documents they file. That carries huge implications as once e-filing begins and then court records go online, any accidentally file information would be accessed anywhere in the world by someone with a computer and an Internet connection.
The Bar has prepared a free CLE course on complying with Rule 2.420, and it can be found on the Bar’s website, www.floridabar.org.
Finally, electronically filed documents must comply with state and federal laws that those documents be compatible with software that will allow computers to read them to people with visual disabilities. Fortunately, the latest versions of word processing and PDF software used by most law firms has built-in programming that will comply with these laws.
The Florida Supreme Court Clerk’s Office has posted a guide for complying with the accessibility laws, as well as links to the laws themselves. That can be found at www.floridasupremecourt.org/clerk/electronicAccessibility.shtml.