Data Helps Dallas Manage E-Filing Growth
October 03, 2022 by
Data Helps Dallas Manage E-Filing Growth
As electronic case filings continue to grow in the civil courts of Dallas County, Texas, staff members recognized they needed a way to increase efficiency to keep up. But first, they needed to track their current metrics to identify where improvements could be made.
“Both clerks’ offices were wanting some sort of ability to provide metrics, not just of their staff, but also filing metrics of the individuals filing into the courts, to see whatever trends they could to improve efficiency as a filer, as well as a reviewer,” explained Ashley Arnold, court technology manager for Dallas County. Their existing process for gathering data was manual and required daily modification by supervisors.
Efficiency Through Integration
To accomplish their goals, the Dallas County IT department and county clerks collaborated with their software developer to integrate a cloud-based e-filing analytics tool with their existing case management and e-filing solutions. It was a step that not only uncovered the insights Dallas County needed, but also took them closer to reaching their long-term goal of full integration across the county’s justice system.
“Since implementing [the analytics solution], reviewers have improved the quality of filings coming into the court and constituents have experienced an increase in efficiency in the manner in which they file,” said Arnold.
Identifying Opportunities for Growth
Now clerks can automatically gather electronically filed data and use the insight it provides to enhance performance. Arnold credits the analytics integration with uncovering valuable trends in the filing process, including the need to increase training for some reviewers. With the new metrics on a single streamlined dashboard, in addition to identifying filing trends, clerks can see:
- How specific reviewers are doing
- If certain rejections are more common
- What case filing types result in more rejections
- If certain filing types correlate with specific days or times
By identifying common rejection types and the reviewers having more issues, court staff can deploy training resources where they’re needed most. They can also provide this additional information out to the state bar so reviewers can improve the quality of filings coming into the court from attorneys or case parties. Rejections such as missing filing fees or certain statutes not in compliance are lessened and prevented when data is captured and shared with all.
“They’re able to educate the filers a little more, as well as educate their reviewers so that they’re not having to reject as many filings,” said Arnold. With fewer filing rejections, clerks can process more efficiently. “The level of service in which items are flowing through the court is increasing.”
Expanding Courtwide Communication
Dallas County looks forward to increasing efficiency and the level of service in its criminal courts as well. Criminal courts are separate from civil courts in a county as large as Dallas, but Arnold expresses enthusiasm for the many benefits of connecting both court systems:
“We want full communication because we are in multiple locations, so we want to have more ease of communication between the different offices so that everything’s not siloed.”
Long-term goals include going live with modern supervision solutions in the criminal court system, allowing all courts to communicate with shared data and metrics.
Data Leads the Way Toward Digital Maturity
By integrating e-filing reporting technology with its existing e-filing and case management solutions, Dallas County has been able to surface a wealth of actionable performance insights. Leveraging data from the new analytics tool helped clerks pinpoint emerging filing trends before they became issues, such as staff training opportunities and resource allotment, which in turn, has improved the efficiency and service of the e-filing process.
Using data to analyze new metrics helps courts determine the resources needed to process caseloads in a timely manner and meet emerging virtual expectations. Arnold encourages other counties to take similar steps toward digital maturity:
“In the long run, it’s going to be more efficient, it’s going to be easier overall.”