Maryland Electronic Courts – A Case Study in Document Management
As an avid supporter of the local legal community, Advance – The Document Specialists recently participated as a vendor in the Baltimore County Bar Association’s technology fair in Towson. The main focus of the event was a presentation given by Maryland District Court’s Chief Judge Ben Clyburn, about the Maryland Judiciary’s upcoming transition to an electronic case management system. In the future, Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) will electronically accept, maintain and share documents, while allowing new services to the Bar such as e-filing, e-service for secondary pleadings and electronic court document access, among others. In listening to Judge Clyburn describe the past and current phases of this ongoing initiative, I couldn’t help but smile, as it unfolded like a typical “document management” project. The type of project that Advance has been helping its clients with for over a decade. While MDEC is obviously designed solely for the legal community, Advance has been helping businesses in every industry by providing customized systems to fit their specific organization’s workflow needs.
So, why convert to electronic document management? No, it’s not just about going “green.” It’s about solving important issues. For the Maryland Judiciary, the goal of MDEC is to increase access to justice and public safety, and to improve the fair and efficient administration of justice. Judge Clyburn told a story of a colleague who issued a bench warrant calling for someone’s immediate arrest, but because of the current inefficient paper processes, the delay in the transfer of information to the sheriff allowed that person to commit a murder. Judge Clyburn envisions a very different outcome in the future. “This is going to save lives,” he stated, referring to the many benefits of the new electronic case management system.
While most of the systems that we provide here at Advance – The Document Specialists don’t address issues associated with life and death, they certainly do solve our client’s critical business challenges. The benefits of our document management solutions include productivity improvements, customer service improvements, workflow improvements, regulatory compliance/security improvements, reduced waste and cost savings. One of the most notable cost savings of MDEC may be from the current spending on paper document storage space, which is in the millions of dollars.
Today, MDEC is still in the planning phase. However, a pilot program for testing is scheduled to launch in Anne Arundel County in the upcoming year or so, with a potential statewide system roll out planned for approximately 2015. With any document management project, communication is a key component of creating a successful implementation and to addressing any change management concerns. Judge Clyburn asked that all attorneys who attended the technology fair get involved to help mold what the final system and structure will look like.