After several years of effort, the Electronic Court Filing (ECF) Technical Committee of OASIS LegalXML is issuing its first Committee Specification Draft of ECF 5.0 for a 60-day public review. MTG partner Jim Cabral is co-chair of the committee, and has been very active in this effort. This draft is an important milestone, leading to the next major version of the standard that has been widely adopted by courts and solution providers across the country. The specification details how XML is used to transmit legal documents among court participants, including courts, attorneys, self-represented litigants, and others involved in legal proceedings.
The specification is available for public review and comment. You can find the announcement at the ECF Announcement page on the OASIS Website.
This June, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System announced the Court Compass Project to Benefit Self-Represented Litigants. This project seeks to develop a compendium and analysis of court-offered solutions for self-represented litigants, along with maturity models to guide the development of integrated solutions in courts nationwide. The goal is to provide insight and guidance to court systems as they develop online portals designed for litigants who choose to represent themselves in legal proceedings. As part of the effort, the project has compiled research on the portal services currently available and in development, so that courts can learn from one another to develop solutions for these litigants. A wide range of services is available, including like self-help content, video libraries, mobile apps, e-filing and smart forms, live chat and text messaging, online dispute resolution and online legal advice, and scheduling tools.
Courts are often challenged to make the most effective use of these tools, because it is difficult to integrate tools developed by a variety of sources. MTG is a participant on the OASIS Litigant Portal Technical Committee, which is currently working to develop technical standards that would assist with interoperability of solutions created by different sources. Within the next 9 to 12 months, the committee should have standards developed that will aid the courts as they seek to create effective, flexible, and cost-efficient litigant portals.
Technology, social change, and politics are fundamentally changing the operations and even the role of the courts. These developments in turn drive the IT investments of and engagement opportunities with the courts. The Court Industry Summit, held April 19-20 in Princeton New Jersey, is a unique opportunity for court IT solution providers to engage in a free-flowing discussion with leaders of COSCA, NACM, CITOC, and representatives from NCSC.
Joe Wheeler, Senior Partner with MTG and Chair of the IJIS Court Advisory Committee served as one of the featured speakers for the 2-day event. Day one, Mr. Wheeler provided an overview of the progress the court community has made on the issues described in the 2015 Court Industry Summit. On the final day, Mr. Wheeler provided insights on the future of the court IT industry, identifying opportunities and threats facing both the courts and the solution providers that serve the courts.
As part of the National Center for State Courts, Joint Technology Committee’s (JTC’s) NextGen Court Technology Standards initiative, MTG recently launched an outreach effort that engages technology providers to the courts. That outreach includes a survey that will be used to accomplish the following:
- Validate and refine the draft list of components.
- Inform the next steps in the Next-Generation Technology Standards initiative.
- Build an industry directory that is organized using a shared taxonomy.
If you are a technology provider to the courts and have not received or taken this survey yet, please do so. You can access the survey here. By participating, you will have the opportunity to weigh in and help shape this important initiative.
One of the thoughts behind the outreach is to solicit guidance relative to each of the following questions:
- What components apply, and which are relevant to the providers and the consumers of court technology?
- Which components are currently in the greatest demand, and which are available?
- Which components may benefit most quickly from new investment into standards development so that components will talk to each other?
To help answer these questions, the outreach is planned to expand to the courts in the near future.