RealTime IT News

Legal Play for Cash-Strapped State Governments

BearingPoint and Microsoft are making a legal play by introducing an electronic filing solution for state courts. The system aims to streamline the process for filing and managing court documents.

The McLean, Va.-based BearingPoint , formerly KPMG Consulting, will sell the offering as a managed service based on Microsoft's .Net and open source Web standards. For cash-strapped local governments, the system allows a state court to participate without incurring the cost of acquiring, building, and operating an e-filing system of its own and allowing smaller county courts to easily adopt the solution.

BearingPoint also plans to offer a revenue sharing option to help states meet the demand for additional online services while increasing their revenue.

Using the LegalXML standard and Web services standards like Simple Object Access Protocol. (SOAP), eFiling for Courts integrates with existing front-end and back-end technology systems and applications, making it possible for state courts to adopt the solution and exchange data with attorneys throughout the state, regardless of the systems they are using.

Attorneys using the system can file documents and make payments to multiple courts through a standard interface accessible at any time, potentially allowing them to improve operations and reduce courier and personnel costs.

eFiling for Courts is based on Microsoft technologies, including Windows Server 2000, BizTalk Server, SQL Server database, Internet Security and Acceleration Server, and Visual Studio and .Net, Microsoft's application development tool for building next- generation Web applications and XML Web services.

"Courts and law firms are demanding sophisticated but easy-to-use electronic filing systems to handle a variety of scenarios -- from complex litigation to simple cases," said Frank Giebutowski, general manager for Microsoft's state and local government business. "By collaborating with BearingPoint we have developed a comprehensive system built on Microsoft .NET that can adapt to the needs of the entire filing community and courts everywhere."

In a joint statement, BearingPoint and Microsoft said they will take a statewide approach to marketing and selling the eFiling for Courts solution. The two companies have teamed in Texas, where the system is currently in pilot in two counties.

"The TexasOnline Authority, the governing body of Texas' state portal, has worked in tandem with BearingPoint and Microsoft to develop a convenient Web-based filing capability for the legal community in the State of Texas," said Carolyn Purcell, CIO for the State of Texas. "Use of the service by our courts can save attorneys time, reduce total-filing costs, and assist courts in becoming more efficient -- this is especially critical in these challenging economic times."

In another move designed to appeal to the legal community, BearingPoint has also signed a marketing agreement with LexisNexis, which offers legal, news and business information and tailored applications. LexisNexis offers the nation's leading Web-based e-filing solution for law firms, which it will integrate with eFiling for Courts.

"The goal . . . is to enable attorneys to electronically file into any case and court in the nation," said Michele Vivona, COO of LexisNexis CourtLink. "LexisNexis is eager to combine our legal and e-filing development expertise with the demonstrated experience that BearingPoint delivers in providing government services."