Electronic court filing (eFiling) is poised to make financial winners out of those who take advantage of it. This guide is designed to help you understand the business horsepower that a court eFiling portal offers to litigation support service providers and law firms, and how use it to help grow your business, without the geek jargon or computer science.
Keep reading, and in a few short minutes, you’ll be up to speed about this online tool that is steadily becoming a critical requirement to doing business with many California courts.
Table of Contents
- What is a Court eFiling Portal?
- What Does It Do?
- Working With Court eFiling Portals
- Stakeholders in the Court eFiling Ecosystem
- Advantages Court eFiling Technology Provides to Businesses
- How a Court eFiling portal Can Transform Your Business
- Why eFiling is Growing
- For the Record
What is a Court eFiling Portal?
In its simplest form, a court eFiling portal is a piece of online software that allows users to easily open court cases and eFile or eServe documents to several California courts anytime and from anywhere. eFiling court documents significantly streamlines the case filing process and provides benefits to both the filer, the court, and the litigation support service provider.
If you or your customers have ever logged onto the internet to buy airline tickets, order food, or shop for almost anything, then you already have a good idea of what it’s like to work with a court eFiling portal. Legal professionals use court eFiling portals to file and serve legal documents in the same way Expedia helps you travel the world and DoorDash helps you order take-out.
There are three striking similarities between how legal professionals use court eFililng portals and the way most people use an online shopping site.
- Set up an online account.
This is the super easy part. It requires only basic information about the account owner and a payment method. Once the account is operational you can create orders at any hour from an internet connection anywhere in the world.
- Order and pay for what you want.
A user can order virtually any litigation support service a law office needs, including eFiling, service of process, courtesy copies, and much more. The portal allows a user to change or cancel an order, and remit payment.
- Track the spend.
Weeks or months after an order is completed you can return to your account to view your purchasing history. Review details about what you’ve ordered, when it was ordered, and what it cost.
Now that you understand what’s at the core of the court eFiling portal, it’s time to look at the functions this tool performs for legal professionals.
What a Court eFiling Portal Does
The end users who utilize court eFiling portals overwhelmingly are legal professionals– attorneys, legal secretaries, legal assistants, and paralegals. They use the portal to file and serve legal documents for case initiations or subsequent cases. Litigation support service providers can also place orders in the portal on their customer’s behalf to fulfill a concierge service or similar.
For litigation support service providers, this fully online system uses automation and software to create and deliver electronic documents, e-sign documents, and auto-generate work orders to help you move legal documents faster and more accurately for your customers.
The services typically offered in a court eFiling portal include:
- Electronic Court Filing (eFiling)
- Physical Court Filing
- Process Serving
- Document Retrieval
- Courtesy Copy Delivery
- Secretary of State Filing
- County Recording
Table 1 shows common legal documents filed using a court eFiling portal.
Working with a Court eFiling Portal
Litigation support service providers are required to be approved and certified by a particular court, to eFile documents with that court. They must demonstrate they have:
- the technological capability to connect their system to the court’s system for upshing and receiving eFiling data
- a secure payment processing mechanism to collect court fees
- eFiling local court rules knowledge and expertise to support their clients
- a portal in which clients and staff can access to place, or process orders.
For example, your operators or operations team might need to intercept a client’s eFiling order before it is transmitted to the court to perform an accuracy review of the order to help increase the likelihood of court acceptance. Or your accounting team might need to access a finance report.
eFiling portal as a gateway
In many ways, the court eFiling portal serves as a gateway to a variety of litigation support services and the single point from which your clients can place and manage electronic court filings.
Once inside the portal, your clients can submit orders, view their cases and orders placed against each case, view order statuses, download or save conformed copies or proofs of service, access invoices and more.
Thanks to the portal, legal professionals can shop online for litigation support services with the same convenience as shopping for a coffee maker.
See LegalConnect in Action
The LegalConnect court eFiling portal was designed from the legal professional’s point of view instead of a programmer’s point of view. This assures ease of use and gives end users exactly what they want.
Find out how this technology can help you grow your business. Call us at 800.909.6859 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a demo today.
Stakeholders in the Court eFiling Ecosystem
By now you are forming a clearer picture of the advantages of a court eFiling portal and how it can help you and your clients. Now let’s zoom out for a macro view of court eFiling so you can see who the five stakeholders are in this process. This will help you connect the dots about how electronic court filing flows from one point to the next.
- The eFiling User
Typically, an attorney or a legal support professional who places an order and/or submits a case on behalf of their client.
- Case Participants
People, businesses, or organizations involved in the case. Usually, a plaintiff and a defendant.
- Electronic Filing Service Provider (EFSP)
An eFiling user places an order via an EFSP, which is a company whose online portal has been certified to transmit documents to a court via an integration with an EFM.
- Technology Provider of Electronic Filing Manager (EFM) Software
The electronic filing manager or EFM is the system that receives the filings and processes them for the court clerks to view and manage. The EFM connects to the court’s CMS.
- The Court and Case Management System (CMS)
The CMS is the Court’s backend system that automates court processes, monitors case activities, and supports decision-making using real-time data and analytics. It is this system in which court clerks review eFiling submissions, accept, reject, or partially accept them, and transmit conformed copies or proofs of service.
Courts are increasingly partnering with the private sector to adopt and implement electronic filing for greater efficiency, cost savings and public access.
Advantages Court eFiling Technology Provides to Businesses
There are several advantages court eFiling technology provides that can help litigation support service providers grow. Let’s examine what they are and why they will be popular with your customers.
It costs virtually nothing for a law firm to get access to eFiling technology and a court eFiling portal. No servers or other hardware to take up office space and no additional IT squad to maintain it. eFiling is scalable up or down at no cost to the law firm.
No more wet signatures
For the most part, electronic court filing means that documents no longer need wet ink signatures. Law firms may still need to retain a signed document in their offices, but documents uploaded to the court do not require a wet signature.
Law firms may also use court eFiling technology to pay for services electronically, freeing them from the burden of paper checks, which can be especially problematic for high-volume filings. This also makes it easier to manage cash flow.
Moving Money: Electronic Payments
What is it about electronic payments (ePayments) that is so attractive businesses? The answer is: ePayment technology simplifies the payment process.
Here is what that simplification looks like in the context of eFiling.
• The EFSP advances money on behalf of a law firm.
• The EFSP is reimbursed by the law firm via credit card or ACH.
• Technology drives the process and enables it to happen almost instantly.
Paid in full. Easy peasy.
Best-in-class court eFiling technology will have features that make reconciliation more efficient for the law firm and its clients. The technology’s electronic payment feature helps provides full transparency that simplifies the reimbursement process. This eliminates outstanding checks, postage and envelopes, and frees up time that firms can use to re-task employees.
How a Court eFiling Portal Can Transform Your Business
As a business owner who has licensed a litigation support service technology platform, you are empowered to differentiate your clients from their competition. The platform does this by offering law firms a path to innovation that other platforms do not provide.
Chief among these innovations is data and the innovative use of data. As an example, the LegalConnect platform captures important data about service performance, billing, and fees paid. Your clients can pass that information down to law firms which, in turn, they can use to improve their own bottom line.
Going a step further, you can offer your clients the ability to integrate their court eFiling portal directly into a firm’s own IT system. This type of integration enables a law firm to access data about its work instantly and view it in real time. The success of this arrangement flows back to you.
Here are three examples of how this happens.
- The law firm bottom line improves.
One of the top money-saving applications of this integration is reconciliation at the end of a case. All of the fees and expenses associated with the case are instantly available to the firm. This allows reimbursements to be made quickly and easily.
- Data reports are money saved.
The business’ technology platform can sort the data it normally collects about end user (law firms) activity to provide business intelligence in the form of monthly reports. Those reports can pinpoint business operations that are losing money (e.g., process serving in remote areas) as well as those that are money makers (e.g., civil eFiling).
- The litigation support service provider becomes a strategic partner.
Integration is a strategic advantage that can be quantified in dollars and cents. In the eyes of the law firm the financial benefit this creates—such as what occurs with reconciliation—can elevate the provider to the role of strategic partner and heighten its prestige in the marketplace.
Find out how this attorney service accelerated its cash flow with litigation support service technology.
Why eFiling is Growing
The growth engine that drives eFiling is fueled by the demand law firms have for electronic court filing. This demand is expanding for two simple reasons.
- eFiling is dramatically less expensive and more efficient.
Compared to paper filing, electronic court filing is far less costly and can be completed much more quickly, from anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection. Electronic court filing is also greener than paper court filing.
The efficiency advantage of eFiling is largely attributable to data accuracy. When data is written or printed onto paper documents the information that is entered may be incomplete or illegible. Electronic filing software reduces these inaccuracies by sounding alerts that tell a user data is missing or entered in the wrong format.
- Courts are mandating eFiling in greater numbers.
The number of California courts that require cases to be filed electronically is growing. As of December, 2021, there are 27 California courts that accept eFiling. Several other courts in the state have signaled that they, too, will move to eFiling in 2022.
The trend is clear: eFiling is here to stay and demand for it will only grow over the next several years.
How Courts Implement eFiling
You may be wondering what the process is for introducing electronic filing into a court. In California, eFiling is usually implemented in two phases.
Phase 1: The court announces that eFiling will be permissive (or voluntary) during a limited period of time.
Phase 2: The court announces a date when eFiling will become mandatory. After that date paper court filing is no longer allowed.
For the Record
There is no looking back for the United States legal system. Paper court filing almost certainly will go extinct as faster, more efficient online court filing technologies rise and dominate the courts.
As this change occurs businesses that provide litigation support services and a court eFiling portal will have a growth opportunity—if they understand the full capabilities of their technology platform and use that knowledge to add value to their service.
Call Your Next Witness
There is no reason your business can’t use every angle in this guide to supercharge its performance. Contact a LegalConnect expert now to set up a demo or discuss new strategies for using the technology you already have!
Call (800) 909-6859 or email email@example.com.