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Unexpected Time Commitments: Complying with Florida’s Electronic Filing-and-Serving Protocol When Submitting Large Documents

While most appellate practitioners are aware of Florida’s mandatory electronic filing (“e-filing”) and service (“e-service”) procedures, there are important differences between the two e-filing applications used by the appellate courts. By understanding these differences and investing a little more time upfront, practitioners can save substantial time and resources in the long run.

In 2012, the Florida Supreme Court issued two highly anticipated opinions adopting recommendations to implement mandatory e-filing and e-service procedures in Florida.1 Intended to provide practitioners with access to “a fully electronic court system” with “increase[d] efficiency,” the new and amended Florida Rules of Judicial Administration – which became mandatory on staggered dates throughout 2012 and 2013 –require attorneys, with limited exceptions, to file case-related documents with the trial and appellate courts by electronic means, as well as to serve those documents on other parties by email. 2 These rules of court certainly are deserving of great praise for allowing the Florida courts and practitioners to efficiently operate “in an electronic environment.”3

Nevertheless, appellate practitioners – who frequently are tasked with e-filing and e-serving voluminous record-based materials – must sometimes undertake the process of e-filing documents with the appellate court in one file size, and then e-serving those same documents on other parties in smaller, broken down file sizes, to properly comply with the differing file-size restrictions imposed by the rules and the appellate courts. And oftentimes, this electronic file-and-serve protocol can become a cumbersome and time-consuming process that appellate practitioners should, but often do not, take into account.

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