New York E-Filing Requirements & Tips

As the practice of law gradually crawls into the modern paperless age, lawyers from both law firms and solo practices should implement a digital document management system, if they haven’t already. The increasing reliance on e-filing systems by state and federal courts is indicative of a major shift towards a digital legal practice.

This article discusses e-filing requirements for New York courts, as well as tips to ensure compliance with these requirements.

New York Requirements

On October 12, 2018, the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts for the state of New York issued an Administrative Order (AO) regarding the voluntary and mandatory use of e-filing and service of documents, effective October 17,, 2018.

Pursuant to AO/294/18, the Courts of the following counties now require e-filing for all actions, except for certain writs, election law proceedings, matrimonial matters, and Mental Hygiene Law matters:

  • Chautauqua
  • Cortland
  • Dutchess
  • Erie
  • Essex
  • Franklin
  • Jefferson
  • Kings
  • Lewis
  • Livingston
  • Monroe
  • Nassau
  • New York
  • Niagara
  • Oneida

Mandatory e-filing jurisdictions require all commencement documents to be e-filed, subject to limited exceptions.

Attorneys and unrepresented litigants must register with the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System (NYSCEF). In addition to the New York Supreme Court, the New York Appellate Court, Civil Court, and Court of Claims also utilize NYSCEF. Using NYSCEF is free, although regular filing fees must be paid.

NYSCEF filings should be in Portable Document Format (PDF), subject to the following requirements:

  • Minimum resolution of 200 dots per inch (dpi).
  • Each PDF may not be larger than 100 megabytes (MB).
  • All layers must be flattened.
  • No password protection or encryptions.
  • Multimedia objects and active content embedding are prohibited.

Please refer to AO/294/18 for specific e-filing requirements for your county.

E-Filing Tips

Cases that involve extensive attachments, exhibits, appendixes, and/or indexes will easily exceed the 100 MB limitation. As a result, they will need to be separated into volumes that do not exceed 100 MB per file. However, a significant percentage of the PDF’s size can be compressed down to minimize the number of volumes.

Word Processor Conversion. It is unnecessary to print and physically sign documents from most word processing software, such as Microsoft Word. Documents can be electronically signed and saved directly as a PDF.

Scanner Settings. High resolution color document scans are unnecessary for e-filing. PDF resolution should not exceed 200 dpi and should be in greyscale.

Optimized PDF. You can use PDF software such as Adobe Acrobat to optimize your PDFs, resulting in a reduction in file size.

To Optimize a PDF using Adobe Acrobat:

  1. Open your PDF in Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Click File>Save as Other>Optimized PDF.
  3. Click OK in the PDF Optimizer popup window (do not change the default settings).

Reduced Size of PDF. Using Adobe Acrobat, you can also save your document as a “Reduced Size PDF” using these steps:

  1. Open your PDF in Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Click File>Save as Other>Reduced Size PDF.
  3. Click OK in the Reduced File Size popup window without altering the default settings.

Bookmarks. Voluminous documents such as attachments, exhibits, appendixes, and/or indexes should be digitally labeled.

Follow these steps to create a bookmark in Adobe Acrobat:

  1. Open your PDF.
  2. Navigate to the page you want to bookmark (e.g. Exhibit A, Attachment 1, etc.).
  3. Click Tools>Edit PDF>More>Add Bookmark.
  4. Enter a name for the new bookmark in the Bookmarks panel.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR). It is good practice to run OCR over court filings, as this allows the court clerk and judge to easily search the textual content of the PDF. This can be accomplished in PDF software like Adobe Acrobat.

  1. Open your PDF.
  2. Click Tools>Recognize Text.
  3. In the Recognize Text dropdown menu, you can choose to either OCR the opened file or multiple files.
  4. In the Recognize Text popout window, make sure the OCR language is set to English (US).
  5. Click OK.

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Making sure your PDFs comply with court rules can be very time consuming. Luckily at Acro Photo Print Inc., we have more than 4 decades of experience assisting New York businesses and law firms with digital file management. Our services include file conversion/compression, labeling/bookmarking, and OCR services. Don’t let your law practice fall behind the times. Whether you have a new solo practice or an established law firm, digital document management is an essential part of modern legal practice. Let us help bring your office into the digital age.

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