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Portal looks to offer for-pay extras

Regular News

Florida attorneys are being asked if there are extra services they would be willing to pay for from court system’s statewide e-filing portal.

Tara GreenThe Florida Courts E-Filing Authority has voted to ask Bar President-elect John Stewart for help is setting up a users’ focus group to advise on enhancements that lawyers might find valuable and worth paying for.

Under the interlocal agreement with the court system for operation of the portal, the authority provides basic services for free to users, including e-filing, e-service of documents in their cases, and access to documents in those cases.

But the authority is wondering if there are other services that lawyers would find useful and for which they would be willing to pay.

Clay County Clerk Tara Green, the authority’s secretary/treasurer and head of its funding workgroup, made the recommendation at the authority’s February meeting. She said the workgroup is exploring possible revenue sources to improve the portal’s financial stability.

The authority is funded through a split of the ACH (automated clearing house) and credit card fees when lawyers pay filing fees, costs, and other charges through the portal. The the actual amount varies depending on whether lawyers use credit cards or ACH and while the authority is in the black now, Green said there are concerns that could change. Hence the exploration for enhancements lawyers would find worth paying for.

“We don’t want to force these services out, we want to hear from the users, ‘What do you find valuable?’” Green said after the meeting.

The workgroup has looked at other states and the federal system, and some preliminary ideas include providing an additional notice beyond the e-service email when a document is filed in a lawyer’s case, automatically filling out part of an e-filing submission for lawyers who do a high volume of the same or similar-type documents, and allowing lawyers to “subscribe” to a particular case or certain types of cases where they are not representing a party but which they are interested in. Documents released in the latter instance would be governed by the court’s security matrix, which restricts access to confidential information by non-parties.

The users committee may refine those or suggest other ideas, Green said. Stewart said he’s been approached by Green and other clerks and is amendable to their idea, although he’s still getting details.

Green said if lawyers have any ideas about services they would be willing to pay for, they can email them to her at [email protected].