It’s a rhetorical question. I know the answer.

The reason all state courts in Mississippi don’t use electronic filing is, in a word, politics.

Some clerks don’t want to adopt electronic filing even though it would make their lives easier. Forcing them to is not worth it politically to the Supreme Court or the Bar. I’m using the word ‘politically’ broadly here–like in the sense of ‘office politics.’ I’m not suggesting it has anything to do with elections.

Understand though, this is my interpretation based on things I’ve been told over the last few years. Some might differ with my conclusions. I suspect, however, upon hearing a more detailed or different explanation, I would say “that’s still politics.”

And I get the politics explanation. Just because someone could exercise power and force all state courts to adopt ECF, doesn’t mean they should. It might not be important enough.

But at some point, it will be. Apparently, not everyone can take a hint. I’m not sure we can wait on the biggest hard headed clerks.

As 2020 approaches, I don’t view ECF as a technology issue. We’re past that. It’s established.

ECF is now an access to justice issue.  Most law firms are built around the assumption that filing will be done electronically. When they can’t, it throws a monkey wrench in the system.

Both from a money and time perspective, it’s less expensive to operate a practice when all filing is electronic. Not a little less expensive. A lot.

A solo who practices in an ECF venue probably can get by without an assistant. It takes seconds to file something and everyone registered in the case can download a copy. Just as importantly, there is a record that it’s filed.

Compare that to a paper filing jurisdiction. You have to mail to the clerk. If you want to be sure it was filed, you have to send them a copy and envelope so they can mail you a file stamped copy back. You also have to send copies to all other counsel and often the judge. Granted you can usually do that by email, although some lawyers don’t.

As a solo with a paperless practice, I shy away from taking cases in paper filing jurisdictions. It’s not going to be the decisive factor in whether I take a case, but it’s a factor. On a pro bono case it would be a deciding factor. If I’m going to take a case pro bono, I’m not going to make it harder on myself than I have to. I can’t imagine I’m the only attorney who feels that way.

It’s easier for solo and small firms to operate in ECF venues. It’s also less expensive for the clients, who end up paying the freight on paper filing and associated staff. This makes electronic filing an access to justice issue, not a tech issue.

Consider yourself lucky of you don’t have to do anything in a paper filing venue. The attorneys who complain the most about paper filing venues are the ones who practice full time in those venues. Just ask one. You’ll see.