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Portal’s e-service function saves lawyers millions

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The numbers can be numbing during a meeting of the Florida Courts E-Filing Authority, which oversees the court system’s statewide online filing portal.

There are numbers of documents filed, numbers of calls to the service desk, financial numbers, and other numerals aplenty.

But one number at the authority’s June 25 meeting should catch lawyers’ eyes, and that’s more than $30 million.

That’s the amount that Portal Project Manager Carolyn Weber estimated lawyers have saved in postage since 2014 when the portal began its free automatic electronic service to a list created by parties in a case.

It’s faster too. Instead of having to mail a copy to other parties and attach the document to emails, the portal automatically and instantly serves a copy when the document is filed through the portal.

(That $30 million estimate does not account for savings lawyers would have realized by conducting service through email, which has been available for a few years, but it also does not include money saved if lawyer and staff time is necessary to prepare mail or email service or to get documents to the courthouse or other parties.)

“E-Service Notices became available to filers in 2014 and to date that savings amounts to $30,270,174. This amount is only the cost of postage if the notices were mailed through the postal service. This amount does not include the savings of personnel time or printing. The E-Filing Authority is pursuing enhancements to improve the efficiencies and experience for the filers,” said Putnam Clerk of Court Tim Smith, chair of the e-filing authority.

Weber also explained that judges and lawyers can also verify that a document was served using the portal’s Notification of Electronic Service (NES) function.

Filers can go to a page on the portal, (it can be bookmarked for convenience), and on the appropriate line type in the submission number they get when filing a document through the portal. Back will come a list of everyone who was served.

Weber said one purpose was to give judges a quick way to check service if a party claimed in court not to have received a filing, but it can also be useful for lawyers.

And when it comes to those other numbers, authority heard some impressive ones at the June meeting.

Weber reported that in April the portal had a total of 1,531,172 e-filed submissions, covering almost 2.3 million documents and 11 million pages, which surpassed the old record for monthly submissions at 1,521,610 set last October. Most of those were filings to county and circuit courts.

The record lasted until. . . May, when the portal processed 1,562,151 filings, covering 2.3 million documents and almost 11.4 million pages.

“We had a very busy year and I am so proud,” Smith said at the session’s start, which was the authority’s “annual” meeting. (The authority meets regularly through the year but is required to have an official annual meeting.) “When we envisioned the portal in 2010, we didn’t expect have the filings we have.”

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