Electronic Filing and Service

16 10 2010

Shortly before 5 p.m. this afternoon, an attorney asked me to file a pleading in Arizona Superior Court. I have never lived in Arizona and know little about their court systems, so I contacted our local counsel in Mesa. The paralegal I spoke with directed me to the Court’s electronic filing system, I registered for the service and began the process of filing the document. Everything went smoothly until I got ready to attach my documents. It turned out one of the documents exceeded the size limit imposed by the site, so I broke the document down into three smaller documents.

I have faced similar problems with the PACER ECF system. Although it makes things even more difficult, providing users with very limited options to label the document prior to filing. On several occasions, I have had to phone the Court and to make sure the documents get filed properly.

Since I primarily work on Texas state court cases, I use CaseFileXpress frequently. I consider it to be very user friendly, but as I discussed in a previous post, a majority of the parties involved have yet to sign up for electronic service so you lack that option.

LexisNexis’ File&Serve remains my favorite application. Its user interface, ease of navigation, unique alert system and patented Batch Document Processor make it an ideal client to use. Plus, I have never had a single instance of it rejecting a document for being too large.

Unfortunately, I learned that the Arizona court used File&Serve after I had already filed using the Court’s website, but in the future I will know the option is available. In an ideal world, all Courts would adopt the Lexis system.


Cutting Out the Middle Man in Your Legal Profession

14 10 2010

Recently, the managing partner in our firm asked that we begin looking for ways to cut client costs. I noticed that prior to my arrival , members of the support staff often outsourced projects I normally would have handled on my own, so I decided to adopt a policy of using a vendor only when absolutely necessary.

We use Summation and I have never used Summation prior to this job, so I began by learning as much as I could about the software. This involved talking to the vendors, reading manuals and “playing” in the system. In two and a half months, I have learned how to create .tiff files, write my own .DII load files and mastered some advanced coding and editing techniques. I’ve found this to not only be cost effective, but also more efficient. Vendors may employ technicians who understand software and programming, but not necessarily the litigation process.

Earlier this week, I learned that we needed to export a large amount of electronic data (over 60 GB) to a client. This required us to run a digital sweep of our servers for all electronic data related to this particular client. In the past, the firm outsourced these types of tasks. I refused to see my firm incur such expenses, so I volunteered to do the job myself. The process turned out to be very simple and painless and I lost no billable time while working on it.

My next challenge? Tackling the large copy jobs we are forced to outsource. I’m still searching for the perfect solution to this problem, but have several good leads.

Is your firm/office forking out big money to a middle-man to perform jobs you could do in-house? Are there ways you could help cut costs, produce a better product and make your firm/office more efficient? I would love to hear your ideas.



Does Your Firm Embrace the Social Network?

12 10 2010

It surprised me on my second day at my new job, when I walked by my secretary’s desk and saw her updating her Facebook status. At my old firm, the executive committee issued the verdict years ago to block all social networking sites, even LinkedIn. Not surprisingly, very few people at the old firm use social media sites and applications as a tool to promote the firm. Beginning during the interview process, I noticed a different perception of social media from the new firm. They expressed great interest in my blog and tweeting habits; I learned that several attorneys in the firm blogged as well and almost everyone had a LinkedIn profile. In the last few weeks, a couple of other attorneys have announced their intent to start a blog and several others have joined Twitter.

Simply put, my new firm, a young, prestigious boutique firm, handling highly complex commercial litigation matters, embraces the social network. My old firm, an aging asbestos defense firm, rejects the social network. Two firms moving in opposite directions who share a very different outlook on the fusion of technology and law.

My last post promoted my sister’s new book dealing with social networking and legal professionals, specifically attorneys using social media tools to market themselves in a job search. However, I firmly believe that the value of these tools extend far beyond landing the perfect job. Indeed, the perfect job involves utilizing¬† these tools to promote, market, inform and engage clients, co-workers and the general public.

As part of her book promoting tour, my sister travels around the country speaking at law schools and law firms on how to best utilize these social media tools. She reports that while many seem receptive to her presentation, many of the “old guard” still express reservations. Others may seem hesitant to change, but simply need to have the new tools explained in order to understand their importance.

Where does your firm stand? Do they encourage you to actively engage in the use of social media tools or do they block Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, leaving you to believe they see these tools as toys? Going forward can a firm remain relevant without embracing these tools? Share your thoughts and I may use your feedback in an upcoming piece on this issue.

A Book for Every Legal Professional

1 10 2010

“What can President Barack Obama and U.S. Senator Scott Brown teach law students and lawyers about finding a job? Both Obama and Brown obtained their current jobs through successful campaigns focused on social networking. Law students and lawyers can incorporate social networking in their job search campaigns as well.”

That is how attorney turned author, Amanda C. Ellis, describes her new book The 6Ps of the Big 3 for Job-Seeking JDs. I believe the advice found in Ms. Ellis’ book applies not only to law students and lawyers, but all legal professionals.

Ok, so I am the author’s brother. Can you say nepotism?

Seriously, the book contains great insight on how to turn your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts into job creating machines. The results speak for themselves. Even if you’re not looking for a new job, the book contains many great ideas for getting the most out of your social networking accounts in your current place of employment. Who knows, it may help you land that next big bonus or promotion.

Copies are available through Amazon.com and Ms. Ellis’ website.