Appendix A

Court Filing Glossary


Application Programming Interface (API)

A type of software interface that connects computers or pieces of software to each other and provides a way for them to communicate with each other and exchange information. APIs define a set of rules and protocols for how to request and send data or perform specific actions between different programs. They act as translators that enable seamless communication and cooperation between various digital services and applications. 


Case management system (CMS)

Software used by a court to store and manage court records, cases, filings, and the court docket. The CMS stores case information, including forms and data received by an electronic filing system. It is used by court clerks and judges to manage cases, review case details, make decisions, and control the official record. These systems often also integrate with document management systems, which store, manage, and track electronic documents. CMS vendors include Journal Technologies’ eCourt, Justice Systems, Thomson Reuters’ C-Track, Tyler Technologies’ Enterprise Justice, and Equivant’s JWorks, among others.

Court User

An individual who interacts with a court to participate in a court case, file court forms and documents, appear in court, or pay court fines and fees. Court users may be attorneys, self-represented individuals, witnesses, or others who interact with the court system.


Document Assembly Tool (DAT)

Public-facing software tools that help users complete court forms and documents. Typically, DATs collect information needed to prepare court forms or documents through a guided online interview that asks users questions, gathers their responses, and follows a logic tree of questions based on those responses to complete the forms. DATs save users’ responses to a database, then populate forms or documents with those saved responses. Completed forms and documents are typically saved as PDF or word processing files that may be filed with the court, either by printing and physically delivering them to the court clerk or by submitting them electronically. DAT providers include Law Help Interactive, Suffolk LIT Lab, Tyler Technologies, Clio’s Lawyaw, TurboCourt, Upsolve, and JustFix, among others. These providers may also offer other functions like guides, lawyer connections, ongoing coaching, and other free or paid services.

Document Assembly Authoring Tools

Software tools that can be used to create DATs. Authoring tools are used to create guided interviews, gather structured data, and populate form files. Authoring tools don’t have public-facing options or websites; rather, they are used to create public-facing DATs. Authoring tools include A2J Author, Docassemble, Gavel, HotDocs, and Neota Logic, among others.


Electronic Filing (Efiling)

The electronic submission and transmission of court forms or documents and data about those forms or documents to a court’s case management system via secure file transfer.

Electronic Filing Service Provider (EFSP)

User-facing software that allows filers to electronically submit information, forms, and data to a court. EFSPs connect to a court’s Electronic Filing Manager. Some internally developed systems and third-party vendors offer both EFSP and EFM system components, for example ImageSoft TrueFiling. Other vendors offer free-standing EFSPs for court users, including ABC Legal, File & ServeXpress, GreenFiling, InfoTrack, One Legal, TurboCourt, Tyler eFile & Serve, and US Legal Pro, among others. In some states, including California, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, and Texas, the court has created a marketplace of EFSPs that users can choose from. Some document assembly tools connect to or are certified as an EFSP, which provides users with a seamless experience preparing and filing forms.   

Electronic Filing Manager (EFM)

Software that operates internally within a court to receive court filings and data from user-facing Electronic Filing Service Providers and then route it to a Case Management System. The EFM is the backbone of the efiling system. Courts may build an EFM or buy one from a vendor like Granicus, ImageSoft, Journal Technologies, Tybera, and Tyler Technologies, among others. 

Electronic Court Filing (ECF) Standard

A national standard that allows systems or entities participating in the efiling process to communicate and exchange data with one another. OASIS, a nonprofit and internationally recognized standards development organization, develops and maintains the standard. ECF uses XML—a structured language describing computer data—to create and transmit legal documents, serving as a sort of envelope to submit substantive forms into the court’s case management system. ECF 5.0 is the most updated specification and was approved in 2019, though ECF version 4.1 was just published in July of 2023. Most courts that use ECF are still on some form of version 4, or lower.

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