Company moves to capitalize on e-filing
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Feb 25, 2001
Traipsing to the courthouse to pick up legal forms or using illegible photocopies
may be a thing of the past. That's what a California company is banking
on with its Jan. 29 launch of a new Web site containing 40,000 federal and
state court forms that users can fill out on their computer screen.
The site, called US CourtForms (www.uscourtforms.com), is the first
step toward electronic filing with the courts, said Bill Bean, vice president
of business development for the Encino-based American LegalNet, which provides
technology products and services to legal professionals. Users would save
time and money and become more efficient, he said.
"Everything begins with a form filing," he said. "Attorneys are filling
out these forms day in and day out. And having the most current form in
the most timely fashion makes all the difference in the world [with] whether
or not you're going to succeed."
Available forms include civil, criminal, bankruptcy and other legal
forms from federal, state and some county courts, and from some federal
agencies, secretaries of state and several state bar associations. Bean
said the forms are accurate right down to their typos.
"These are compliance-based documents. They have to be precise, right
down to the misspelled word. [The courts] want this document [exact] right
down to the font," he said.
Documents are accessible in Adobe Systems Inc.'s Portable Document Format
(PDF), Microsoft Corp. Word, and ScanSoft Inc.'s OmniForm Extensible Markup
Language (XML) format. Interactive and non-interactive forms for the PDF
and Word versions are available, but Bean said the XML format looks the
most precise and is the most user-friendly. Fields to be filled out are
highlighted in yellow, he said.
Users do not have to pay for non-interactive forms. Using an interactive
form just one time costs $5. Monthly subscriptions for unlimited use of
interactive forms are $19 for one state. Bean said most users, presumably
attorneys, would subscribe to a state and federal government, which would
cost about $34 per month. There is a one-time $25 fee to cover software
By year's end, Bean said the company hoped to provide database connectivity
to law firms for services such as scheduling and case management and then
e-filing to the courts.
"In the next year and a half, more e-filing will be picked up by attorneys
because it's just easier to do," he said. "People fall into the path of