The Beauty of Electronic Service

30 09 2010

Allow me to start by apologizing for taking so much time off from blogging. On July 23, 2010, I left my firm home of 5 1/2 years for a new job. I know I wrote as recently as June that I loved my old job, and I did, but simply put I received an offer I could not refuse.

My new firm specializes in complex commercial litigation matters and each day presents a new set of unique problems to solve. After working in toxic torts for so long, it has taken some time to adjust to such a diverse practice. On my first day, I learned that I would be working for eight attorneys–four partners (including the managing partner) and four associates). Each met with me to briefly to go over their active case load and I soon learned that my new position would require my complete focus to ensure a smooth transition.

In a little over two months, I have managed several different cases, including branching out into areas of law completely foreign to me (i.e. bankruptcy and IP litigation).  Though challenging , I’ve learned that these “new” areas of practice require the same basic fundamentals I have employed throughout my career. As legal professionals, we seek to form logical arguments based on the evaluation of facts and details. Likewise, we seek to identify the weaknesses of an opposing argument, either through the misrepresentation of facts or logical fallacies.

However, on the administrative side, I have noticed one glaring difference–the service list.

Asbestos litigation spoiled me! In Texas, all pretrial activity goes through a central, MDL court, before being remanded back to its original court for trial. The Texas Asbestos MDL Court requires all parties to electronically serve all documents, whether it be pleadings, discovery, notices, etc. This keeps things extremely simple and makes service extremely efficient. Instead of searching for a docket sheet, you simply log in, post and submit. You receive instant electronic confirmation that your document has been served on all parties and there are no confirmation sheets or green cards to clutter your files or office.

While all of the cases I work on now feature electronic filing, signing up for electronic service is left to the discretion of each individual party. Furthermore, this only applies to pleadings. Almost all of the discovery requests we receive or responses that we serve are through the archaic method of “traditional service.” This eats up valuable billable time that must be sacrificed to prepare the documents to be served and wastes firm money on the expenses related to the delivery of the documents.

As more and more offices move towards becoming “paper-less,” all courts will eventually move towards mandatory electronic service. I just hope that days is sooner, rather than later. Until then, I’ll let you go. I need to go check the fax machine for my confirmation sheet.