Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter
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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Electronic filing seems like such an appealing notion. Rather than rush to the courthouse counsel can do what needs to be done sitting in their pajamas, like bloggers. The reality is somewhat different, and since it's federal court we are talking about here, I can't see things changing for the better any time soon. Right off the bat there is the problem of identity. Each of the four federal district courts in New York require counsel to register separately. The courts assign a user name and a password, and although I guess you can change the password, I haven't been able to. The user names are pretty arbitrary, too. On some level this makes a sort of sense-- one is admitted to each of the federal districts separately, they are administered separately. Even so, this is a lot of bother.

There is also the interface, something called ECF/Pacer. It is horrible-- completely non-intuitive. There is no way to tell what or where hyperlinks are, there are no on-screen prompts, it's ugly. It also appears to be incompatible with Firefox-- or, at least, I can't log on using Firefox. (Westlaw chokes on Firefox as well, a grievance for another day.) It is clunky technology, and I hate it. Oh, and did I mention that if you want to search for stuff they charge you? Who invented this system?

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