eFiling seems to be the latest technology in law practice management. While designed to make practice easier, until the “kinks” are worked out it is anything but simple. As of now only 19 of California’s 58 counties permit eFiling in some or all case types, but new eFiling courts are coming. The term “eFiling” is not universally used. In Los Angeles County where eFiling is in the process of becoming mandated [January 2, 2019 for civil unlimited], there are many providers, but go 30 miles north to Ventura County and there is no such thing. In Ventura, they use eDelivery directly through Journal Technologies and cut out a myriad of middle men. Similar to Los Angeles, Santa Clara County implemented mandatory eFiling earlier this year, and filers must use an electronic filing service provider to process filings with the court. (San Francisco, for its part, eliminated its four-year-old court-run e-filing portal earlier this year, and now requires practioners to process all filings through e-filing vendors.) Is this good? Time will tell – it is different. The Ventura Superior Court will still accept paper documents for filing at the filing window or via U.S. mail. The implementation of eDelivery does not supersede any statutes, rules, and/or policies and procedures related to the filing of documents in person or via mail. Not so in Los Angeles where eFiling becomes mandatory in civil matters on January 2, 2019. Check your County’s Local Rules regarding e-filing, as many jurisdictions have transitioned to various services over the past few years.
eFiling platforms provide more than the name would imply. Unlike Fax filing and eDelivery, eFiling populates your desktop with other information available in the court system. When you set up a case for a filing, that case line has access to previous filings, court dates, counsel of record and other information which the court stores about that case. This information is used to allow the attorney to serve the documents being filed on other parties to the case.
Not only is the process a learning experience, but the fee schedules are more complicated. For those courts using eFileCA as a case management system, the courts have mandated that technology fees be paid to the eFileCA platform. These fees vary depending on whether the court has mandated eFiling and case type, but are $3.50-$5.00. In addition, the courts will charge a 3.5% convenience fee to cover the costs of processing credit card payments. In researching the various services available, I found that many have a 30-day free trial period where the provider’s fees are waived. This waiver does not apply to any fee due to the court – but is an excellent way to determine which provider has a service that works for you at a price you are willing to pay.
For purposes of electronic filing of documents, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure, § 1010.6(b)(3), any document received electronically by the court between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59:59 p.m. on a court day shall be deemed filed on that court day. Any document that is received electronically on a non court day shall be deemed filed on the next court day. This provision concerns only the method and effective date of filing; any document that is electronically filed must satisfy all other legal filing deadlines and requirements. These deadlines are only applicable to electronic filings. The following counties have accepted this State Rule: Butte; Calaveras; Fresno; Kern; Merced; Monterey; Napa; Los Angeles; Orange; San Diego; San Francisco; San Luis Obispo; San Mateo; Santa Barbara; Santa Clara; Santa Cruz; Stanislaus; Sutter; and Yuba.
To get the most recent requirements applicable to your practice, check the websites for the courts in which you practice.