Illinois Mandatory E-Filing is Here: What You and Your Firm Need to Know Now
With e-Filing now mandatory throughout the Illinois civil court system, you may already have a great handle on what your firm needs to do to properly file; you could maybe use some additional tips to be sure nothing falls through the cracks in a new tech system and firm workflow, which is where “The Illinois Attorney’s Guide to e-Filing” comes in.
This seismic e-Filing shift leaves much room for issues and pitfalls to present themselves, so be sure that you and your firm have the information necessary to avoid e-Filing problems. Smokeball’s latest E-Book provides e-Filing tips for Illinois attorneys and firm staff with the most important keys to successful (and mistake-free) e-filing in Illinois.
Continue reading on what you need to know about e-Filing in Illinois, and download “The Illinois Attorney’s Guide to E-Filing” to get all our e-Filing best practices.
Benefits of e-Filing in Illinois
By Order dated January 22, 2016, the Illinois Supreme Court embarked on a state-wide project to transition all civil filings to an electronic system. The court laid out that technology has evolved in such a way to support electronic information exchange. The Supreme court has since amended its initial Order to adjust Illinois e-Filing timelines and provide clearer instructions.
As of January 1, 2018, there is no turning back from civil e-filing. While some courts are able under the orders to apply for extensions to implementation for “good cause”, many courts in the state are already compliant, and that means you and your staff should already be e-Filing pros.
There are numerous benefits to a standardized e-Filing system. The Illinois courts’ e-Filing website outlines that “[e]-Filing will streamline the process for filing documents — conserving environmental resources and time while generating long-term cost savings.” The Illinois Supreme Court itself outlined the benefits to all court users and especially pro se filers when propounding the initial Order.
The Illinois court system is hopeful that e-Filing will make access to the courts, a fundamental right of citizens, and access to public documents, an important right to civilians and legal professionals, much easier, more organized, and transparent. E-Filing is not novel, and several other states and the federal government have employed it for years. Illinois will certainly see accessibility, financial, and time-saving benefits once fully integrated, but for now, there are certainly growing pains inside small firms.
Get Your Firm Prepared for New E-Filing Processes
While the technological aspects of a new e-Filing system will always leave the possibility for issues and problems, there are several ways you and your team can insulate against them with basic e-Filing tips for attorneys. It’s all in the preparation — if you think through and implement solid practices, much of the pain that comes with adoption of new technology can be alleviated. As outlined in our free guide to e-Filing for Illinois attorneys, novice users of the e-Filing system must be mindful of several key things.
Because e-Filing relies on email for notice delivery and correspondence, users must be extremely vigilant to email correspondence from the courts. Smart lawyers and firms should use a law firm email management software and create a separate email address for email relating to e-Filing. This segregation ensures that important notices and correspondence does not get lost in a sea of potentially thousands of other emails dealt with each day.
You and your staff will need to prepare internally and take some extra time to ensure filings properly complete. E-Filing procedures should be practiced, and staff should never wait until the last minute to file something. The risk of missing a deadline, even for reasons outside of your control, can be diminished by leaving at least an extra day or so in which to be sure a filing goes through correctly.
Robust, Organized, and Up-to-Date Internal Systems
Finally, with Illinois courts rolling into a new technological era, your firm will need to join them. That means your firm should implement or streamline systems of legal document preparation, saving, and sharing. Adequate internal systems can range from practice management software to a reliable internet connection. E-Filing will certainly seem out of place and cause irreversible problems if laid over inefficient and disorganized paper-based internal systems.
Our free guide to e-Filing in Illinois further outlines the main things to remember so that you and your staff feel comfortable with Illinois’s new e-Filing processes and avoid common, silly mistakes.
Smokeball and InfoTrack Can Help Take e-Filing Pain Away
Smokeball’s powerful integration with InfoTrack, a certified Illinois E-filing Service Provider (EFSP), provides a streamlined e-Filing process that takes several opportunities for mistakes off the table. First and foremost, utilizing a cloud-based practice management software like Smokeball ensures that e-Filing is not shoehorned into a disorganized, out of date internal system. It bears repeating that trying to fit 21st-century e-Filing into a lagging internal system will lead to disaster. After all, even one major mistake or missed filing can be detrimental to your firm and your license. Smokeball’s legal document assembly and organization expertise will certainly help your firm even beyond e-Filing.
Using InfoTrack as your EFSP integrated with Smokeball is the second necessary piece to robust and reliable e-Filing. Your organized Smokeball documents can be filed and tracked through InfoTrack with the click of a button. Additionally, InfoTrack will automatically populate certain filing information right from your Smokeball system, avoiding potential mistakes made when re-typing information over and over again into different systems. You’ll get real-time accepted documents stamped by the clerk and can follow your case dockets from one place. Finally, InfoTrack and Smokeball will record any e-filing costs and associate them with your file automatically.
These powerful tools in combination with solid preparation and internal processes will make life in an e-Filing state much less stressful. Download “The Illinois Attorney’s Guide to E-Filing” today, and continue your firm down the road to successful e-Filing in Illinois.
To learn more about Smokeball and the productivity, organization, and profitability it provides small law firms each day, schedule a quick demo so you can see the software and how it can work with your firm. To learn more about InfoTrack’s services including e-filing, property research, corporate formation services, visit www.infotrack.com.