LexisNexis to buy CourtLink

In a move that indicates the growing popularity of electronic filing in

courts across the country, LexisNexis, the giant information services company,

has agreed to buy CourtLink Corp., a firm that already is providing e-filing

systems in 90 state and local courts nationwide.

CourtLink also provides online access to case information from all U.S.

district and bankruptcy courts, 11 out of 13 federal courts of appeal, and

the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, as well as many state and local courts.

LexisNexis' acquisition of the Bellevue, Wash.-based company, announced

Oct. 31 for an undisclosed sum, is subject to the approval of CourtLink

shareholders.

"We're hoping to close the deal by the end of November," said Ann Fullenkamp,

LexisNexis' senior vice president for emerging markets. Fullenkamp will

become chief operating officer of CourtLink after the departure next year

of Henry Givray, the company's current chairman, president and chief executive

officer, who has agreed to remain through March 2002.

Traditionally, filing a legal document with a court has been time-consuming,

requiring attorneys to make paper copies, deliver the copies to the court

in person or via messenger, and ship more copies to opposing counsel and

other parties by overnight mail.

CourtLink's e-filing system currently charges attorneys a flat $2 transaction

fee for filing a document, plus 10 cents per page for filing via the company's

Web site. The system also notifies other lawyers and parties, and sends

them copies of the document -- via e-mail or fax -- for a small fee.

Several courts with heavy caseloads -- among them the Superior Court

of the District of Columbia -- recently began e-filing pilot programs, but

the proportion of courts nationwide that offer such a system is still less

than one in 50, Fullenkamp said. Many courts aren't fully automated, and

moving toward electronic document handling will require those courts to

overhaul their hardware and software and train staff.

"So for e-filing to go from about 1.5 percent to 100 percent, a lot

of things have to happen," she said. "We're taking the long-term view toward

developing this market."

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