... but they keep talking about it.
Here is more from the Nova Law Review, Spring 2004 article referenced in the prior post. If you have access to LexisNexis you can click: 28 Nova L. Rev. 721
The Technology Challenge: Lawyers Have Finally Entered the Race But Will Ethical Hurdles Slow the Pace? Lynn A. Epstein, ( Professor of Law, Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center)
V. FILING DOCUMENTS ELECTRONICALLY WITH THE COURT: THE RACE TO THE COURTHOUSE JUST BECAME A BLIP ON YOUR SCREEN
Electronic filing of court documents is an extremely efficient and cost-effective method of getting documents from the law office to the courthouse. When the IRS began to permit electronic filing of tax returns, it paved the way for other governmental offices to use e-mail as a means of receiving documents. The court system, while initially slow to respond, has begun to make real progress in this area, especially in the federal court system....
Electronic filing has numerous advantages, including simplifying and standardizing the filing process, and reducing errors in copying and transcription. However, the biggest advantage in electronic filing lies in reducing the costs of printing, copying, and mailing associated with paper documents. When courts take that extra step of setting up systems that allow the entire file to be viewed electronically, it enables more people to have access to the system.
State and federal rules of civil procedure have also paved the way for electronic filing. Many of the federal rules of procedure have been amended to allow courts to permit electronic filing if provided by local rule. Most jurisdictions have set up technology committees to study the most effective way for courts to implement electronic filing.
... Additionally, as courts adopt electronic filing, most still retain the ability for lawyers to file paper. Dealing with two different filing systems can be complicated and unwieldy. Ultimately, a court may decide to go entirely electronic. If so, either the lawyer must have online capabilities or the court needs to take the time to convert paper to paperless. ...
Attorneys are beginning to take advantage of electronic filing. One in five lawyers engaged in electronic document filing at some time. For those attorneys that have filed documents electronically, approximately 95% have been satisfied with the experience. Motions were the most frequently filed documents, followed by pleadings. However, the majority of lawyers still delivered documents in person to the courthouse.
The reluctance to file documents electronically would seem to have little to do with impediments with ethical rules. Since electronic filing is controlled by the court system, there is little possibility that lawyers would be able to act unethically in this area. Local court rules are very specific as to the process and specifications required for electronic filing, thus eliminating competency concerns that may encompass ethical considerations.
However, as most courts move toward electronic transmission of documents, lawyers should likewise move toward using this method of transmission. It will no doubt be consistent with the Model Rules, goal of lawyers expediting litigation, by allowing parties to access documents instantaneously. It will also aid the court with an efficient method that eliminates volumes of paper and storage problems. No longer will attorneys race to the courthouse drop box, or search for inventive and creative ways of adding mail days to the due date of their documents. In fact, if lawyers do not at least begin to adopt the process of filing documents electronically, they may find themselves left behind when courts permit only electronic filing.