If you’ve been following the blog, you know that Texas appellate courts are moving into the e-filing era.

For trial lawyers, this may seem like no big deal. “How hard can it be to make a basic PDF?” But as both sides of the appellate divide know, trial briefs are not used like appellate briefs. Appellate briefs become dog-eared research tools for the law clerks and judges as they write the Court’s opinions. The Texas move toward appellate e-filing seems driven by a desire to make judges’ and law clerks’ lives better, and the new rules permit enhancements such as internal bookmarks and hyperlinks.1

Last year, I spoke with Blake Hawthorne about the new electronic brief requirements at the Texas Supreme Court. This year, we’re back to give a more in-depth talk, with some practical tips and — here’s why I’m writing this post today — some practical answers from Texas appellate judges about how they’re using your briefs, what they find helpful and appreciate seeing, and what they find to be a waste of time or even a distraction.

So what are your questions? What issues have come up in your firm as you try to decide how to approach this process? If you’re a skeptic of this change, what questions might change your mind — or do you think might persuade the rest of us if only we knew the answer?

Please feel free to send me an email or give me a call, if you’d rather have a little privacy for your questions.

  1. The federal model started the other way, with its origin in large asbestos dockets. The U.S. Supreme Court still has nothing approaching e-filing. Although some Justices use electronic devices to read briefs — with an ideological split between Kindles and iPads — the briefs themselves are just dead images of the printed booklets. []