Remaining Relevant in the Digital Age
I remember the last time we held our Conference on a cruise ship, Jeff Karotkin was there telling us all this day was coming. I honestly don’t remember the year or who else was on that panel with Jeff and I’ll even leave open the possibility that it wasn’t on the cruise and could have been at another location as my memory is definitely not what it used to be. Be that as it may, I know that Jeff has been ringing that fire bell for a while now. Spending the last 4 years at One Legal has also made me realize just how easily (kind of) technology can be utilized in order to transport paper (or more correctly stated, images of paper), and in some cases, eliminate it entirely.
I’ve been a member of CALSPro since 1989 and I’ve seen a lot of change. From handwritten dockets, when I was a court runner, to Thomas Bros. map books as a server, to the first “portable” cellphone (think car battery for those too young to remember), to fax filing, to eFiling and now, eService. Okay, I realize that eService has been around for quite some time but it’s only recently that it has started to gain some traction in the law firm world. I’ve taught, and teach today, courses that go into some detail about how process is being served today via social media (think modern publication), fax or email; in some instances, without the legal authority necessary (i.e. service of subpoenas by email is not per the CA statutes). And, just last Friday (June 28th), the Judicial Council of California amended Ca. Rule of Court 2.251 (c)(2) to require eService in cases where eFiling is mandated, “except when personal service is otherwise required by statute or rule…”
It’s because of what I perceive to be a sea change in our industry, or profession if you wish, that in December of last year, I made this motion during the board meeting:
CALSPro shall organize a one-half day to a full-day discussion on Sunday, March 17, 2013 to begin to formulate a plan as to how we are going to address electronic filing and electronic service of process.
The motion was seconded by fellow board member Pat Woodman and was passed unanimously by the board. Our President, Michael Kern, formed an Ad-Hoc committee (read on to learn who the members of the committee are) in order to “begin to formulate a plan.” Due to the holidays and work obligations (you all know the drill), we weren’t able to gather ourselves in time for March 17th but we did begin having bi-weekly conference calls with the idea that we would instead organize the “discussion” around the June board meeting. Those conference calls in some ways generated more questions than answers, but as we kept reminding ourselves, we’re trying to formulate a plan. We want to keep expanding the committee to all officers, board members and committee chairs and then eventually share what we know, and what we’ve learned, and what others have learned, with you, our fellow members at the Conference in October so that we can all put our heads together and formulate a plan, decide on a direction, something.
Well fellow member, phase 1, have the “one-half day” discussion, is complete. We (the newly formed eService committee, consisting of all officers, board members and committee chairs as well as Tom Bowman, Andy Estin, Jeff Karotkin and David Nill) met on June 14th in Sacramento. Here’s the agenda from that meeting:
A bit of background…
The intent of the ad-hoc committee (Wendy Bowman, Steve Janney, Jeff Karotkin, Michael Kern, David Nill, Mark Schwartz) has always been to open up the discussion to a larger group (this meeting) with the eventual goal of shaping our future as an Association (the Conference). We believe that remaining relevant in the digital age is the key to our members’ continued existence. We also believe that in order to begin the process (no pun intended), our membership must be as informed as possible, presented with recommendations from our leadership (you) and given a chance to vote (perhaps by choosing the next board and officers) on the direction the Association should take.
The purpose of this meeting is not to make decisions, but instead recommendations and it’s likely that we’ll need to continue these discussions as we move towards the Conference.
Lastly, while knowledge of eFiling is important to understand the big picture perhaps, we believe that the focus here should be about eService. eFiling rules are for the most part already in place and it’s really technology that drives that bus, if you will. eService, on the other hand, is already occurring, even though in many cases, it is not codified. How do we ensure that it’s our members that serve those, as well as other papers?
Let the discussion continue!
- 3:00 p.m. to 3:05 p.m. – Self-Introductions
- 3:05 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. – Opening Statements of Ad-Hoc Committee Members
(Wendy Bowman, Steve Janney, Jeff Karotkin, Michael Kern, David Nill, Mark Schwartz)
- 3:20 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Discussion as to whether eService should/can be codified as another method of service of primary documents
- 4:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. – Discussion (including proposed changes) to 2006 ABA Best Practices (included with invite)
- 4:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. – Discussion (including proposed changes) to CALSPro’s Best Practices (included with invite)
- 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. – Discussion (including proposed changes) to the proposed legislative plan (included with invite)
- 6:00 p.m. to 6:20 p.m. – Discussion (including background on Maranda and proposed changes) of tentative conference agenda
(Jeff Karotkin & Mike Kern)
- 6:20 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. – Recap and assignment of action items
- 6:30 p.m. – Adjournment
It was a remarkable day, certainly. It’s a scary subject, certainly. However, we had honest and open discussions about where we were going, where we could be going and where we wanted to be going. Again, we came away with more questions than answers (Click here to read the minutes of the meeting). However, all of us in the room felt better that all of us were in the room. Sounds like a Yogi Berra-ism, doesn’t it? In all seriousness…eFiling and eService are not going away! It’s vital that we figure out, AS AN ASSOCIATION, how we can remain relevant in this daunting, and at the same time what I feel is exciting, technology age.
Okay, so now on to the next phase, or phases. This is where you come in fellow member:
- The committee is working on a survey in order to solicit your opinion(s). Please be on the look out for it and please take the time to answer it openly and honestly. Tell us what you think and fear. Most importantly, tell us what you want, or need, to know.|
- The conference committee (Stephanie Sayler, Chair) has been hard at work on the conference agenda, and is finalizing, along with the eService committee, an informative and eye-opening, conference agenda so we can all dive into this thing as a group in October.
- That agenda currently includes background on eFiling & eService infrastructure, rules, statutes, a presentation from a colleague from Canada, whose organization has experienced similar issues and come up with a solution that works for them, and a “town hall meeting” so we can all “hash things out.”
- We’ve also included some time Sunday morning so after it all sinks in a bit, we can go at it again.
Be on the lookout for the conference agenda, as well as other communications on this subject, and please, make plans to attend the Conference. Everyone’s voice needs to be heard and the more minds focused on this subject, the better! And, please add your comments to this post or email me at email@example.com if you have any thoughts you’d like to share.