Does your firm have a hidden problem?
According to the Court Statistics Project of the National Center for State Courts, an estimated 84.4 million new federal and state cases were filed in 2017.
· District Courts: 354 Thousand Cases
· Bankruptcy Courts: 789 Thousand Cases
· Courts of Appeals: 52 Thousand Cases
· Trial Courts: 83 Million Cases
· Appellate Courts: 241 Thousand Cases
State civil cases make up the bulk of the caseload in most large law firms. While the overall number of state cases has been declining since 2008, the number of civil cases increased in 2016-2017 for the first time since the 2008 recession.
A rapidly growing challenge
US courts have spent the last two decades migrating from paper to electronic filing. Given the absence of a coordinated nationwide roll out or recognized standard for electronic court filing, the road has been bumpy at best. Federal, state and local jurisdictions have been tasked with implementing their own solutions, resulting in a large number of systems built on incompatible technologies. This lack of standardization has carried into the transition from paper to electronic service of court documents and other notices,which in the electronic paradigm may be received by email from court systems,third-party Electronic Filing Service Providers (EFSPs), and even opposing counsel, in an ever expanding multitude of formats and with differing requirements for accessing the underlying documents. Law firms are rapidly finding themselves at a tipping point where manual processing is no longer enough to keep up with the volume and variation of electronic court notices, opening the door for Intelligent Automation.
The seven tasks to process an electronic court notice
- Connect the case to an internal client and matter number.
- Download each document associated with the notice potentially tens or hundreds of documents per notice.
- Profile each document in the document management system.
- Determine relevant parties to be notified based on information in the financial management system, case management system,or lists maintained on an ad hoc basis.
- Distribute the notice and associated documents to the correct parties.
- Update the docketing staff or calendaring system.
- Record any costs in the time and billing system.
Wasted time increased risk!
Our research shows there is no standardized industry wide system for processing electronic court notices. In most firms, this work is performed manually by paralegals, legal assistants and/or the docketing department, using workflows and document storage methodologies that vary from firm to firm, between practice groups within firms, and in some cases even on an individual attorney basis.
This Reliance on manual workflows and document storage methodologies drives up costs and increases the risk of error when processing a single electronic court notice. Expanded across the operations of a large firm processing thousands of electronic court notices received from tens or hundreds of courts systems and third-party EFSPs, the resources needed to reliably process electronic court notices become significant and difficult to manage.
- Manually downloading documents wastes time on low value and usually non-billable activities, such as profiling in the firm’s(DMS), which requires looking up case details and keying in data.
- Errors in manual entry result in even more wasted time spent searching for documents or correcting data.
- Improper identification and notification of relevant parties leads to missed or delayed notifications, which may critically limit the time available for the firm to respond to a notice. This issue can result from a change in attorneys handling the case, outdated information or errors in a manually managed list, human error when distributing the notice, orany other of a myriad of reasons. The consequences can be devastating.
- Reliance on undocumented knowledge increases the likelihood of human error and non-conforming processes. Firmwide process management is cumbersome or impossible.
- Reliable processing of electronic court notice is heavily dependent on trained individuals and their availability and leads to workload distribution challenges that can only be addressed by extensive and costly cross-training, outside contractors, or morale-draining demands on employees’ personal calendars.
Why is the problem HIdden?
Firms have traditionally relied on the hard work and training of their paralegals, legal assistants and docketing departments to manage the processing of electronic court notices. Since the work is getting done, it may appear as though everything is fine from a management perspective. Further hiding the problem is the difficulty in calculating the actual cost of manually processing electronic court notices when the work is distributed across numerous non-billable legal assistants or docketing staff who perform other tasks for the firm. For firms that attempt to bill for the work, processing electronic court notices may appear as more of a fee generating opportunity than a problem.
However, with the increasing pressure on firms to improve efficiency, reduce risk and lower costs, innovative firms are looking for ways to streamline back office workflows to justify higher rates in client facing work and improve the firm’s bottom line.
The ECFX Solution
ECFX Notice is a SaaS platform using Intelligent Automation to streamline the entire electronic court notice workflow with firmwide administration and analytics.
With ECFX Notice, a law firm can achieve dramatic improvements in all critical measures of the electronic court notice workflow. Key areas of improvement include:
- Efficiency: the cost of processing electronic court notices is reduced by an average of 93%.
- Speed: electronic court notices are processed within seconds of receipt instead of hours or days.
- Control: customizable policies for storage of documents, notification of relevant parties and alerts enables administrators to implement consistent firmwide workflows.
- Consistency: flexible storage policies and standard email templates ensure timekeepers receive notifications and documents in a consistent format according firm, practice group or attorney preferences.
- Cost recording: ECFX delivers a cost load file by case for easy billing to a client or matter.
- Risk mitigation: automated processing of electronic court notices eliminates delays in processing or human error that may critically limit the time available for the firm to respond to a notice.
- Workforce Utilization: elimination of tedious job responsibilities increases employee satisfaction, reduces turnover, and decreases cross-training requirements.
- Insight: a customizable analytics dashboard empowers managers to make informed staff sizing and workload distribution decisions.
What ECFX Notice means for efficiency
Depending On their experience with the court, the number of documents to be downloaded and profiled, and the number of parties to be notified, legal assistants and paralegals can spend up to 60 minutes processing just one electronic court notice.
By replacing costs of $25 to $50 per hour with automated processing, ECFX Notice achieves significant savings for both the firm and its clients. For Example, if implemented in a firm that has 200 litigators, with the assumptions that each lawyer manages an average of 20 cases per year with an average of 10 notices per case, ECFX Notice could provide annual savings of over $1,000,000.
Now that’s a number worth considering in today’s competitive market!
ECFX is a fast growing startup focused on bringing Intelligent Automation to all aspects of electronic court filing. For more information, visit us at www.goecfx.com.
Telephone: 1 (310) 750-4160