Revamping the Legal System
"It is the task on law to form and project, as well as mirror and reflect."
- Quote from Professor Joshua Dressler.
In the era of modern technology, where we can do almost everything digitally, the legal system seems to be lagging behind. Many rules of civil procedure still require using snail mail to serve and send notices to opposing parties. The rules are antiquated and need to be revised to embrace modern technology.
The use of snail mail is even more cumbersome since the Covid-19 pandemic, as postal workers still often fail to get signatures from mail recipients. This has caused a bottleneck to the legal system; cases are taking longer to resolve. How should courts revise rules and embrace modern technology? Here are some suggestions:
1. Every Court should allow electronic filing of court documents. Currently, many courts require paper filing, which can be time-consuming and expensive (and bad for the environment). Electronic filing would allow lawyers and litigants to file documents from their computers or mobile devices, which would save time and reduce costs. This would also make it easier for judges to access and review documents, which would increase efficiency in the legal system.
2. Courts should allow electronic service of court documents. Electronic service would allow lawyers and litigants to serve documents via email or other digital means, which would save time and reduce costs. This would also make it easier for lawyers to serve documents on opposing parties. With snail mail you may not know whether the opposing party received the Court notice, with modern technology you can get a "read receipt".
3. Courts should allow video conferencing for court hearings (especially case management conferences, pretrial hearings and other mechanical hearings). (The truth is, many hearings are not really necessary and can be completely automated with technology or a revision of rules.) With the current pandemic, video conferencing has become the norm for many workplaces and industries. Courts should follow suit and allow video conferencing for court hearings, particularly for non-evidentiary hearings. This would save time and reduce costs for lawyers and litigants, particularly if they have to travel long distances to attend a hearing.
The legal system needs to embrace modern technology to become more efficient and cost-effective. Courts should revise their rules to allow for electronic filing, electronic service, and video conferencing for court hearings. These changes would not only improve the legal system but also make it more accessible to lawyers and litigants, particularly those in remote or rural areas.
For those that work in Courtrooms - "form and project" ... bring our Courts to the new age and pave the way to an optimized future.