TrueFiling e-solution streamlines work for attorneys, courts, clients

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

A new tech tool for lawyers, courts and individual filers--TrueFiling, created by ImageSoft in Southfield--makes previous methods of filing as antiquated as quill pens. Lawyers can e-file to multiple courts with a single system, available 24/7 - it's enough to make Lady Justice swap her sword and balance scales for a mouse and keyboard.

Customers asked for an e-filing solution that is scalable, easy to install and configure, and one that integrates tightly to the court's workflow and case management system, says ImageSoft President Scott Bade.

"TrueFiling allows filings to flow smoothly from the filing attorney's desktop into the court and back again, saving all parties a significant amount of time and money. The market also wants a common e-filing platform so that a county or state can leverage a common solution across all courts and case types, including criminal cases."

Launched last fall, TrueFiling is already streamlining work for courts, law firms, and individual filers in Ottawa County and three counties in northern Michigan.

The 13th Circuit Court in Grand Traverse County chose to pursue a digital paperless work environment for a number of reasons, including enhanced efficiency, productivity, access and transparency, says Philip Rodgers, chief judge pro tem.

"The ability of lawyers and parties to e-file is a significant part of a digital court," he says. "E-filing can generate revenue to support the court's technology and licenses, but is not a substitute for general fund revenues or a profit center."

Rodgers selected ImageSoft because of the company's prior reputation with his court, and price.

"Unlike their principal competitor, they did not charge us to program through our firewall and connect to the internal document management system, and they shared revenues with us on a first dollar basis," he says. "We felt their offer was very competitive and we've continued to receive superior support from them."

Rodgers also liked the fact that ImageSoft is based in Michigan, and that its principals were educated in the Great Lakes State and make their home here.

"If Michigan wants to create and promote high tech jobs and transform itself out of the rust belt, government should occasionally put its money where its mouth is," he says.

While there are always challenges in change, court participants are becoming more accustomed to this new technology, says Kevin Bowling, court administrator for the 20th Circuit Court/Ottawa County Probate Court. "TrueFiling effectively opens the courthouse doors 24/7 and allows counsel to file documents from the comfort of their office - clients are not charged for trips to the courthouse and records are easily accessible after filing," he says.

Several manual operations are eliminated or reduced - mail no longer has to be manually opened and date stamped, but is received electronically, automatically cued for review, then attorneys are notified when pleadings are accepted, Bowling says. When attorneys or litigants call with case related questions, court staffers can quickly retrieve an electronic file and provide improved public service. The system saves court staff time processing cases and locating files, and will save on printing and paper costs when court rules are modified to allow for a "paper on demand" file operation.

Ottawa County Clerk Daniel Krueger, another pioneer with TrueFiling, says it ensures a more complete case file due to fewer lost or misplaced paper documents.

"It also means that attorneys and others no longer need to trek to the court to file case-related documents. It's a plus for all involved in the legal process."

James Baker, an attorney with Smith & Johnson P.C in Traverse City, jokes that he was filled with "joy and trepidation" when the 13th Circuit Court announced it would become an e-filing court and had selected TrueFiling. He expected to receive an 8,000-page training manual about TrueFiling, with 10 minutes of "highlights" by the presenter.

"Boy, was I wrong," he says. "The TrueFiling presentation was thorough, and compared very well with the user-friendly manual - which was merely a few pages long, and presented by someone who appeared to be a 'plain-speaker.'"

After a practice run period, Baker e-filed a pre-trial statement as his "maiden voyage" with TrueFiling.

"The process was very simple, and the steps easy to follow," Baker says.

Patrick Heintz, an attorney with Bishop & Heintz in Traverse City, sees a great opportunity to save time.

"No more running to the court to research files for pleadings, briefs or exhibits, which may not be accessible in our files," Heintz says. "The ease of access to digital files makes the research easier and convenient.

"We're very comfortable with the U.S. Federal District's online filing protocols and see this local effort as a great step in that direction. We're extremely fortunate to have great leadership in our local judges who have wholeheartedly introduced us to TrueFiling."

For more information, visit www.imagesoftinc.com or call (248) 948-8100.

Published: Mon, Mar 5, 2012

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