Spreading the news that e-filing is coming might not have quite the same importance as the message delivered by Paul Revere and his fellow riders in 1775 – but e-filing is still worth noting. I attended the Maine State Bar Association winter meeting in January, which gave Maine practitioners a sneak preview of the state courts’ new e-filing system, File & Serve. It was an interesting and informative session.
The tentative plan, as attendees were informed, is to begin the process of rolling out e-filing at the end of this year. As many already know, e-filing is likely to be introduced first for Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties. But, of importance for appellate practitioners, it sounds like the court is also considering including not only the Business Court but also the Law Court in the initial implementation.
We are still waiting to see all of the rules surrounding e-filing, but the system that was previewed at the winter meeting appears to be user-friendly and promises to significantly streamline the process for filing with the Law Court. And, happily, filings will be easily available online (without cost). Also of note, the e-filing system includes a search tool, re:Search, that will make it easy to find previous filings – including Law Court briefs.
These tools will be very helpful for the appellate practitioner. But, it also means that appellate practitioners (as well as any other lawyer), will need to pay attention to the new filing system. As we were reminded, Rule 5.3 of the Maine Rules of Professional Responsibility obligates lawyers to supervise their assistants and ensure compliance with all filing requirements.
So take note: e-filing is coming!