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Florida Bar: Shift all Pleadings to Email Format

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 16, 2011 6:49 AM

In Florida, email pleadings may soon be the wave of the future.

Instead of having to deal with a mass amount of paper and complaints heading toward your way via the U.S. Postal Service, Florida attorneys may soon be facing a deluge of e-mail pleadings.

The Florida Bar is proposing that the state change its pleading methods so that attorneys must exchange pleadings with each other via e-mail instead of via paper, reports the AP.

The Florida Bar pointed out that e-mail pleadings and digitizing the legal profession could lead toward some great things. It could save paper, ink, and toner. It could save even more trees as a result of not having to deal with bulky envelopes and stamps.

The bar's proposal would not mean the end of all paper pleadings. While the proposal would require that pleadings be sent out via e-mail, there is no prohibition on printing out the pleadings or serving the pleadings in paper format in addition to the digital format, reports the AP.

Not all Florida attorneys are happy with the proposed push.

After all, some attorneys prefer to work with paper instead of via a computer screen. And, e-mail in itself can be an unwieldy beast - how often have you sent something but it never made it to the intended recipient because of spam filters and mis-typed "to" fields?

Plus, many attorneys tend to use their e-mail inbox not only as a recipient of legal documents. It's also where lawyers schedule meetings, correspond with colleagues, and receive messages. It seems fairly easy to imagine a scenario where an important pleading gets buried under the mountain of e-mails that get sent to attorneys on a daily basis.

The push toward e-mail, however, is not surprising. Federal courts already use e-file, and with the growing use of technology in the legal field it seems like it's only a matter of time before everything becomes digitized in some way.

The question though for Florida is if e-mail pleadings really are the way to go - or if some other electronic document system should be set up.

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