Texas Forum to look at past, future of legal profession

Attorneys and paralegals from across the state will meet in Dallas on Feb. 28 to discuss the past and future of the legal profession at the 32nd Annual Texas Forum.

The forum—an annual conclave of attorneys, educators, administrators, paralegals, and other professionals—will take place from 8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Cityplace Conference Center, 2711 N. Haskell. The keynote presentation, “The Past and Future of the Legal Profession,” will feature a panel of professionals from the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Young Lawyers Association, the National Association of Legal Assistants, and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.

 

Other highlights include:

  • Rowlett lawyer Chad Baruch will discuss one of the basic components of the legal field: research and writing in the digital age.
  • The attorney-paralegal team of Philip Vickers and Julie Sherman of Cantey Hanger in Fort Worth will discuss best practices and tips for e-filing.
  • Texas A&M University School of Law professor Neil Sobol will discuss best practices for effective electronic research.
  • Barbara Kirby, director of paralegal studies at Texas Wesleyan University, will discuss how the ethical relationship between the attorney and paralegal team has evolved over time, and the continuing pressure for paralegals to perform more substantive tasks with less supervision.
  • Lydia McBrayer, certified paralegal with Chappell & Alsup, PC, in Midland, will survey electronic technology in the modern legal office.
  • Jan McDaniel, certified paralegal with Chappell & Alsup, PC, in Midland, will provide a review of electronic timekeeping software, guidance on using electronic timekeeping, and tips on how to capture more billable minutes.

The forum will feature two tracks: an advanced track for attorneys/paralegals and an intermediate track for students and practicing paralegals. Registration ends Feb. 21 or once capacity is reached.

Registration ($30 for attorneys, $25 for paralegals, $20 for students) includes lunch. Attendees will earn five hours of continuing legal education credit, including one hour of ethics.

Download the registration form.

Attorneys must include email addresses on e-filed documents

With the continued implementation of the Texas Supreme Court’s e-filing mandate, attorneys are reminded to include their email addresses on all e-filed documents, including petitions, pleadings, and motions. Documents uploaded to third-party Electronic Filing Service Providers should already have the email address(es) noted. 

According to Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 21 (f)(2), “The email address of an attorney or unrepresented party who electronically files a document must be included on the document.” Additionally, TRCP 57 states, “Every pleading of a party represented by an attorney shall be signed by at least one attorney of record in his individual name, with his State Bar of Texas identification number, address, telephone number, email address, and if available, fax number.”

When this information is omitted from e-filed documents, clerks can have a difficult time serving attorneys electronically and communicating other important messages. 

Houston attorney first user to e-file in 2014

By Megan LaVoie
Texas Office of Court Administration

Houston attorney Bob Gilbert likely wasn’t the only lawyer working as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, but he was the only one using efiletexas.gov. Gilbert was the first attorney to e-file on the new system as the mandate went into effect on Jan. 1.

He e-filed a suggestion of bankruptcy case for his client at 12:39 a.m. in a Dallas court from the comfort of his Houston home.

“I didn’t mean to run over midnight, I had several cases to file that night, how embarrassing that I was the first one,” he said with a laugh. “The kids had gone out, my wife was asleep, so I thought I would take advantage of the time I had to do some work.”

Gilbert, a solo practitioner who specializes in consumer law, said the ability to e-file has changed his business.

“As soon as it became available, I signed up,” he said. “It’s been a great benefit for me. I never felt comfortable sending filings through the mail, and I hate driving to the courthouse to file.”

Efiletexas.gov has seen a surge in filings in its first week under the mandate. On Jan. 1, there were 142 filings and 37,873 registered users in the system. On Jan. 7, the system received 10,570 filings and rose to 42,322 registered users. In all, there were 36,375 filings in the first week of statewide e-filing.

To put those numbers into perspective, without e-filing Texas clerks in the state’s 10 most-populous counties would have had to process 231,605 pieces of paper. That’s an estimated savings of roughly $2,000 dollars in paper costs alone and considerable storage and processing costs in just one week.

Gilbert said he practices across the state and greatly appreciates that there is now a uniform system for him to access. When he was asked what he thought about his permanent spot in e-filing history he humbly said, “As a lawyer, I’m glad I had work to do.”

For more information and to register to e-file visit www.efiletexas.gov.

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Texas Supreme Court approves final e-filing rules

The Supreme Court of Texas announced Friday that it has issued final rules for electronically filed civil court documents, effective Jan. 1.

A Texas Court of Criminal Appeals order also includes changes to appellate rules governing criminal cases. The rules supersede all other local civil rules governing electronic document filing in Texas courts, according to the court. Under the rules, court filings by attorneys in Texas civil cases will be mandatory.

The court also approved technology standards established by the Judicial Committee on Information Technology.

Read the e-filing rules here.

Read the technology standards here.

Electronic-filing effective today

Guest post by Osler McCarthy, Supreme Court of Texas staff attorney for public information 

Effective today, you may electronically file documents with the Texas Supreme Court, pay your fees, and serve opposing counsel using the Texas.gov electronic-filing system.

To use the electronic-filing system you must first choose an electronic-filing service provider and register. You must send two paper copies of your filing to the Court when you use the electronic-filing system.

If you choose to file using the traditional paper-filing method, you must still e-mail electronic copies of petitions, responses, replies, briefs on the merits, amicus briefs, post-submission briefs, motions for rehearing, and emergency motions to the Clerk of the Court on the same day that the paper copies are filed. The electronic copies must be e-mailed to scebriefs@txcourts.gov. An original and eleven paper copies are still required for most filings when using the paper filing method.

For more details, see the Electronic Copy and Electronic Filing Rules for the Supreme Court of Texas. For more information about creating electronic briefs, please read this Guide to Creating Better Electronic Briefs. You can also watch a video that shows step-by-step instructions for using Adobe Acrobat to create an electronic brief.