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. (( 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. ))

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.