In 2002, the federal district courts began to accept electronic filings. Now, at least one court is making electronic filing mandatory. By May 1, 2004, attorneys practicing in the Western District of Washington must register for electronic service of documents and by June 1, 2004, electronic filing will be mandatory. The Western District of Washington is ahead of the curve, in part, due to its responsibility for the multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) regarding phenylpropanolamine (“PPA”), motivating the court to find ways to become more efficient and provide better access to dockets and filings. Other courts are sure to follow, and it is well worth a few minutes of your time to become familiar with the system.

The first step is to register, which must be done before filing any papers with the court. The electronic filing system for federal courts is referred to as the Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (“CM/ECF”) system. The registration form is simple and will only take a minute to complete. Most courts have help lines, online tutorials and even short classes for assistance. A good Web site for basic information about the system, registration forms, and participating courts is: www.ilnb.uscourts.gov/cmEcf/.

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