Earlier in 2022, File & ServeXpress launched its eFiling service in the Fairfax Circuit Court. In doing so, we became the first eFiling Service Provider for the jurisdiction, ushering in a new tech-friendly era for the filers, and easier filing for everyone.
It can be hard to try something new — attorneys in Fairfax are used to physically filing documents with the court, as they were required to do for years. While they can still opt for physical filing if they choose, eFiling provides a better overall experience for most firms over physical court filing. It takes less time to file, uses fewer resources, and requires less administrative work before, during, and after the filing process.
Here, we will discuss four specific advantages of eFiling vs. physical court filing to help you decide whether eFiling is a good fit for you and your firm.
eFiling Reduces the Strain of Document Management
Physical document management is a considerable resource and time sink, especially for frequent or complex case filers.
To start, it requires significant administrative effort just to organize documents. Printing all the documents, organizing them for delivery, and making copies requires an honest amount of effort (and it’s not like any Paralegal/Attorney wants to spend their day printing, stapling, and organizing documents). Additionally, most jurisdictions have retention policies for filed documents, meaning you need to lug those copies into a form of long-term storage, and maintain them over time.
Physical document management is resource-intensive as well. Paper, printer ink, envelopes, folders, clips, and staples are inexpensive in small quantities, but the cost adds up. Also, consider the space used to store older documents, and the process required to dispose of documents once you need some space back (disposal is rarely as simple as throwing the documents in the garbage, especially when it comes to sensitive legal documents or confidential client information).
The costs and tasks involved in physical document management may appear small when examined individually, but they take up time and resource overhead invisible to your clients.
The good news is that eFiling will reduce your effort in the short and long term. Any time you eFile a document, you save yourself from significant administrative work. You don’t need to print any documents out, you don’t need to lug papers across the office to a filing cabinet, and most eFiling services will store the document through the retention period (typically a few months or years. FSX stores all filed documents permanently). If you adopt eFiling for all future casework, over time you can clear out space used for filed document storage and save significant money on paper, ink, and other document organizing aids.
eFiling Saves You from Unnecessary Travel
Maybe you’re not too bothered by the document management process described above. If you don’t file very frequently, a bit of printing and organizing is manageable. But how do you like driving to the Court House?
Hitting strict filing deadlines doesn’t always sync with the USPS, meaning you need to find another way to deliver the documents. Some firms have a dedicated courier or use a courier service. Others may need a Paralegal or Attorney to occasionally make a trip to the court themselves (which they resent at the gas pump).
Physical filing also makes remote work a bit more complicated — you or your staff will likely need to trek to the office to organize filed documents and their long-term storage copies. It doesn’t allow you to enjoy the flexibility possible with remote work because a significant portion of your job requires regularly meeting with a set of filing cabinets.
eFiling makes these problems disappear—there is no need to hop into a car or even leave your desk. Anywhere you have access to an internet browser is a place you can file from or access previously filed documents. Whether that’s from your office, your home, or on a plane doesn’t make a real difference.
eFiling Improves Communication and Accountability
Would you like irreversible proof you filed on time? Know the status of your filing in real-time? Know precisely when opposing counsel reads the documents you filed? eFiling makes the filing and service process transparent for everyone.
The greatest communication upgrade eFiling provides is automatic notifications. For example, File & ServeXpress can provide notifications for different processes, such as when your documents have been accepted, rejected, or reviewed by opposing counsel.
Comprehensive read receipts are also available on File & Serve Xpress, meaning you can know when an involved party not only opens the filing, but reads the notification email. This allows all parties to stay in the know without constant active communication/checking in.
Finally, with some services (like File & ServeXpress), you can use the filing status as a filter for document searches/reports. This way, you can very quickly keep tabs on where all your filings are in the greater process without needing to call anyone.
eFiling Allows for Simultaneous Serving
Filing is only one part of the process. Often, you will want to file and serve the same documents simultaneously.
With physical filing, this requires preparing multiple sets of documents and sending them to multiple locations. It basically multiplies the document management and travel problems we discussed previously. But with eFiling, you can either let the filer physically serve the same documents (removing that labor from your end), or eServe those documents at the same time.
Serving documents through an eFiler allows you to take advantage of the technologies used on the platform as well. So all the notifications, read receipts, and reporting functions possible with eFiling apply to served documents.
Transitioning from Physical Filing to eFiling?
Some benefits of eFiling will take a while to take hold. eFiling won’t empty out existing cabinets or transition your other procedures to digital formats, and learning any new system takes some time.
But many benefits of eFiling can be enjoyed immediately.
- Every set of documents you choose to file electronically are documents you don’t need to print and store in a filing cabinet.
- Any documents you file electronically don’t require physical delivery to the Court.
- Every set of documents you file electronically can be served in the same transaction.