PDF In-Depth

Making a PDF for e-filing

About the Author

David Fishel

In 1991, David joined the United States Department of Justice as an Honors Attorney in the Environmental Enforcement Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. While at DOJ, he engaged in large-scale, scorched earth civil litigation across the spectrum of...  More



I assume that the reason many readers find themselves at PDFforLawyers.com is because they are lawyers that need to e-file and want to learn how, preferably in 15 minutes or less. The basic requirements for e-filing in federal courts are listed at the US Courts website. At its simplest, there are just a couple of tools that an attorney needs, along with a basic understanding of the process. Let's go over the list from the CM/ECF user info site:

A personal computer running a standard platform such as Windows or Macintosh.
Okay, not many lawyers these days are running Linux or Amiga or DOS or whatever. I assume if you can figure out how to run your practice on Linux, you can figure out how to troubleshoot any issues that arise from e-filing. Your biggest problem would be finding IE 5.5... Not sure why they put this in there, other than to protect themselves from answering a lot of esoteric help-line questions from people that are still using WordStar.

A PDF-compatible word processor.
Basically, any word processor or text editor should work. At its most basic, producing a PDF is a variation on normal printing. Anything you can print, you can turn into a PDF. Again, most lawyers are using some non-DOS version of WP or Word, so you may be able to use that software to do double duty (see below on word processors). Anyone out there making PDFs with WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS?

Internet service.
If you're reading this, you have it. If you plan to e-file anything bigger than a two-page document, consider getting faster service.

Netscape Navigator version 4.6 or 4.7.( Netscape 6 is not recommended for use with CM/ECF.) and Internet Explorer 5.5. Netscape Version 7.02 and Internet Explorer 6.0 are currently being tested to certify compatibility. Some users have had positive results with these versions.
Now this is a little strange -- as a rule, any computer can produce a PDF file if you use some ingenuity, and the rest of these requirements are fairly generic. But this requirement (web browsers specified right down to the version number) is pretty darned specific without really saying why. If anyone has more info on this, please let us know. I assume since they use the browser to upload the filed documents, it may have to do with security. The web world is starting to realize that it's good practice to design your site to conform to standard specs so that any browser will accurately render your pages. The court-specified Mac versions are so old and lame that it's not clear why anyone would use them except to access CM/ECF. But I digress...

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