Are You Ready for NextGen in the 10th Circuit?

E-filing has made our lives as lawyers easier—much easier. Now that e-filing has become so ubiquitous, it is hard to imagine life without it, though you can still get older attorneys to describe racing down the street clutching briefs to shove at the clerk before 5:00 p.m. And e-filing in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is about to get even easier. Just a few days ago, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals completed an upgrade of its e-filing system. As of May 15, 2017, the 10th Circuit has converted to NextGen CM/ECF. This change has been in the works for a while, and the 10th Circuit has compiled a ton of helpful resources to ensure attorneys are well prepared for the shift. This post outlines some of the highlights of the new system, points readers toward the many resources available on the subject, and provides a summary of what attorneys who want to e-file in the 10th need to do to make a seamless change.

What is “NextGen”?

If you have filed anything with the court since 2009, you—or at least your office—are probably already familiar with CM/ECF, the court’s electronic filing system. The Next Generation of CM/ECF, or “NextGen” is a redesigned system with more functionality. Here are some of the benefits of the new system:

  • It allows you to use a single username and password option to both retrieve information and file documents with the federal courts, rather than using one to file and one to search.
  • The new system is no longer dependent on Java, which means that users won’t have to download and install Java Plug-ins. This will please people who don’t consider Java sufficiently secure.
  • The new system has an upgraded look, making it easier to navigate. Intuitive navigation makes attorneys happy, since most of us aren’t computer whizzes.
  • A “Getting Started” function provides a step-by-step overview of how to file, with sample screens. We love show and tell!

Several federal courts across the country have upgraded to NextGen, although the majority still use an older version of CM/ECF. Upgrades are done on a court-by-court basis, so the 10th Circuit’s upgrade does not necessarily mean that the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, for example, will also upgrade.

What Do I Need to Do to Use NextGen?

Conversion to the NextGen system has brought with it a few changes in how attorneys will be able to e-file in the 10th. There are two main steps that you need to do in order to be sure you can e-file using the new system. The 10th Circuit’s website has helpful step-by-step guides that you should follow, but here is the general overview of the process:

1. Upgrade Your PACER Account.

In order to use the new system, you must have an upgraded PACER account. If you already have an upgraded account, you are good to go to the next step. If not, you’ll need to complete a few simple steps to upgrade.

2. Link Your Upgraded PACER Account to Your CM/ECF Account.

Once you have an upgraded PACER account, you must link that account to your CM/ECF Account. The 10th Circuit specifically cautions that if you are performing this function for someone else to pay careful attention that the right accounts are being linked because the process is permanent once submitted.

3. Learn the New System.

Finally, take some time to get familiar with the new system. While the new system is fairly intuitive (and in some ways, pretty similar to the old one), get comfortable with the ins and outs of NextGen before you are racing against a filing deadline. There are several helpful learning modules that walk you through how to use the new system, all of which can be accessed here. The information in the learning modules is also available as PDFs, which is helpful if time is short, or if you want to save them for future reference.

NextGen: A System for the Future

NextGen CM/ECF is a new and improved version of the old system, streamlining processes and making our lives just a little bit easier. Make sure you are ready to hit the ground running the next time you need to file an appeal!

Because of the generality of the information on this site, it may not apply to a given place, time, or set of facts. It is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations