Generations of local lawyers have trudged to County Hall to file legal papers. Now, fewer and fewer of them will have to, with the County Clerk's office embracing electronic filing.
Clerk Chris Jacobs says the move, effective Tuesday, is part of a series of changes as the courts and his operation have become increasingly computerized. That's why the dusty books holding property records have been replaced by hard drives of records.
Some legal paperwork will remain on paper, like matrimonial applications, mental hygiene cases, and criminal cases, but that too will change in the future.
"This is going to be probably a little more work for us short term, but over a long period of time, the time we waste scanning documents into digital form when they were just printed out from digital form at the lawyer's office, it really didn't make sense," Jacobs said.
The clerk says all of this probably won't bring in any more cash but will hold down costs for items like postage because papers won't have to be mailed back. He also says there will be less paper thrown away each day. Jacobs says there are security precautions being taken to protect the information.
Erie County will be one of nine counties out of 62 counties in New York State to implement mandatory e-filing. Area lawyers have been preparing for the change through outreach efforts with the Clerk's Office and the court system.