May 17, 2011 will be the ten year anniversary of electronic filing in the Western District of Washington. The western Washington bankruptcy court was among the first federal courts to use the Electronic Case Filing (ECF) system that is still in place today.
Electronic filing has transformed the way bankruptcy law is practiced and made access to the court more available to all. The system has made certain aspects of the practice more affordable for clients. Many of the more labor intensive aspects of filing used to be billed to clients. Now these tasks are keystrokes.
Prior to Electronic Case Filing, it was extremely difficult to file cases quickly to stop garnishments and foreclosures: Attorneys and assistants would have to print off multiple copies of original bankruptcy petitions and haul them over to the court to stand in long lines of still more attorneys and assistants hoping to file cases. I used to stand in those lines staring at the clock thinking there must be a better way. Years later, I probably take it for granted that I can meet with a client in either my Seattle or Vancouver office and then fill her case before she walks out the door.