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Denise Howell is a seasoned appellate and intellectual property litigator based in Los Angeles. Denise writes one of the first and most popular law-related blogs, Bag and Baggage, coined the term "blawg" and helped pioneer podcasting for lawyers. Microcontent obsessed since 2001, she is frequently quoted in the media on legal issues involving intellectual property and technology law. "Sound Policy" is Denise's show at IT Conversations, and it's also what she hopes results from the briefs she submits to court. Email Denise at

Dennis Kennedy is a computer lawyer and legal technology expert based in St. Louis, Missouri. An award-winning author, a frequent speaker and a widely-read blogger, he has more than 300 publications on legal, technology and Internet topics, many of which are collected in his e-books. Dennis has been described as someone who knows almost every rock song in existence and, more importantly, how they apply to technology and law. Email Dennis at his gmail address.

Tom Mighell is Senior Counsel and Litigation Technology Support Coordinator at Cowles & Thompson in Dallas. He has published the Internet Legal Research Weekly newsletter since 2000 and blogged about the Internet and legal technology at Inter Alia since August of 2002. With Tom's singing, Ernie on guitar and Dennis' encylopedic knowledge of rock music, we may have the beginnings of a good band, if this whole blog thing doesn't work out. Email Tom at

Marty Schwimmer left a partnership in the largest trademark practice in the world and founded Schwimmer Mitchell, a full-service IP micro-boutique in Westchester County, New York, where he represents owners of famous and not yet famous trademarks. He founded The Trademark Blog, the first IP law blog and the one with the most pictures. He is the first to come in and the last to leave in his firm. Email Marty at

Ernest Svenson practices law with a mid-sized law firm in New Orleans, specializing in business-related lawsuits. Most of his practice takes place in federal court, especially the Eastern District. He is best known for his weblog Ernie the Attorney, which he started as an experiment. Like many experiments it got out of control. Nevertheless, he continues to practice law and, occasionally, to seek enlightenment. Email Ernest at
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Between Lawyers provides just-in-time group commentary on the issues raised when technology, culture and the law intersect. We take you behind the firewalls and conference room doors to show you how experienced lawyers deal with these issues and help you prepare for the new challenges we all face. For more, see our introductory post.
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August 7, 2005

E-Filing and The Learning Curve

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Posted by Tom Mighell

The Electronic Filing and Service for Courts blog has a nice piece titled The Benefits of Mandatory E-Filing, with which I mostly agree; while there are clearly major benefits to e-filing, I'm just not sure making it mandatory (at this point, anyway) this soon is the right strategy. Yes, I know e-filing is mandatory in the bankruptcy courts, I just wish they had handled it a different way.

The reason why: like it or not, many attorneys are not equipped with sufficient technological skills to grasp the intricacies of e-filing. I write this with a trace of sarcasm; while the average reader of this blog would no doubt find e-filing a snap, many attorneys are still way behind the technology learning curve. I'm talking mostly about solo (and some small firm) attorneys here -- large firm attorneys may not have the skills, but they certainly have staff capable of processing an e-filing transaction.

A case in point. My firm subscribes to the Courthouse News, a great service that delivers an e-mail to us each day with descriptions of the latest court filings, both state and federal. A few months ago, the Courthouse News described a lawsuit filed in federal court by a lawyer here in Dallas, actually against the Northern District of Texas. The lawyer alleged that he lacked the computer skills necessary to e-file, and therefore the mandatory e-filing system here was discriminatory. We'll see how far this lawsuit goes, but the point is made: some lawyers are not equipped for this brave new world of e-filing.

A solution? Before a court system decides to go mandatory, they should offer e-filing as an option, with the notice that at some point in the future, e-filing will be the only option. At the same time, the court system should offer some sort of class to teach the basics of e-filing to lawyers and their staff. The classes can be online, at the courthouse, or in seminars through the bar association. I know some of the federal courts here in Texas require the attorney to take such a class before registering to e-file, but so far the state courts that have e-filing don't provide any obvious training -- at least in Texas, anyway.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Legal Technology


1. Mary Wahne on February 1, 2006 10:08 PM writes...

Is there any way I could get more information on the lawsuit filed by the attorney in Dallas mentioned in this article?


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2. Tom Mighell on February 2, 2006 7:45 AM writes...

Mary, I got that information as part of a service my firm uses, Courthouse News Service ( There was a mention of the case being filed in federal court here in Dallas, but unfortunately I didn't save any of it.

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