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Attorney registration portal revamped

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portal-at-glance.gifState court officials heard the grumbling of lawyers who for the first time last year had to register, pay fees and provide contact information online.

It was confusing. Difficult to navigate. Frustrating.

Now it will be different.

“We think this will make it a lot less stressful for people,” Indiana Supreme Court spokesperson Kathryn Dolan said of the revised registration portal that will appear Aug. 1 at www.appealsclerk.in.gov.

Court officials provided a demonstration of the revised site that more than 20,000 active and inactive Indiana attorneys, judges and non-attorney judges are required to use to register and pay fees. Lawyers also can use the site to update contact information, office location and other information required by law or court rules.

When attorneys log in, they’ll see new screens that court administrators hope address some of the concerns that were raised after the site debuted last year.
 

il-portal-15col.jpg Appellate court technology director Robert Rath explains some of the changes to the redesigned Indiana Clerk of Courts web portal that attorneys will use starting Aug. 1 to register, pay fees and update required information. The modifications came after attorneys complained about the online system. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

“The desire to make it easier to use did drive us to redo the front end,” said Robert Rath, director of appellate court technology.

Court staff worked with attorneys and others in focus groups to learn what worked better and find improvements to make the system more intuitive, easier to navigate and more user-friendly.

“The key difference is the screens are rearranged and the processes are configured in a ‘wizard’ format,” Rath said. That means for each step in the registration process, prompts will appear when information is required, and users will be cued when they’ve completed various portions of registration.

For returning users, information logged previously will carry over into the new portal. “The vast majority of attorneys won’t have that many changes to make,” Rath said.

A frequent complaint about the system has been that users were uncertain when they had completed various sections of the online registration forms. Attorneys are required to submit the following information:

• Basic contact information

• Home and business addresses

• Notification settings (where they prefer to receive various email notices)

• Bar status

• Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA) certification

• Surrogate attorney designation

With the new portal, an attorney logging in will see a revised “dashboard” containing links to each of the registration sections. Each link navigates to a new window with prompts for the required information. When each section is finished, a “completed” checkmark icon appears for that section on the dashboard.

The new portal will look strikingly different on Aug. 1. Division of State Court Administration web coordinator Lindsey Borschel said that when the new site launches, the home page of www.appealsclerk.in.gov will include a banner reading “It’s that time of year again,” advising users that fees are due.

The licensing fee for active attorneys is $145. Those fees pay for programs such as continuing legal education, the Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, and the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program.

The home page will welcome users with a screen that asks, “What would you like to do?” and links to each of the sections where information can be updated.

“Everything they can do on the portal will be available on that screen,” Borschel said.

Chuck Dunalp, executive director of the Indiana Bar Foundation, is among those who worked with court administrators to refine the registration portal regarding IOLTA certification. “One of the issues before was that attorneys didn’t necessarily have to see that screen and verify everything” during registration, he said.

Another problem was outdated, incorrect or incomplete information, Dunlap said. To address those issues, the revised system will include a drop-down menu of financial institutions.

“I think we have a few systems in place that streamline it for attorneys,” Dunlap said. “We’re hoping to repopulate the data with the best information we have.”

The bar foundation oversees IOLTA proceeds that are used to fund the state’s pro bono districts. Dunlap said attorneys are required to complete IOLTA certification even if they are exempt; failing to do so constitutes an incomplete registration. The revisions to the web portal should reduce the follow-up required for attorneys who miss that step in registration.

Online registration saves hundreds of hours of duplicative work for Dunlap and court staff. In years past, Roll of Attorneys Administrator Darla Little received the 20,000 or so registration forms in the mail.

The forms included IOLTA sections that went to the bar foundation and copies were given to the Commission on Race and Gender Fairness to track responses to the optional questions of race and gender. Each section of each form had to be manually entered into databases.

“That was a time-consuming process,” Dunlap said. It also was one that allowed submission of incomplete registration forms – particularly when an attorney failed to complete the IOLTA section. The revised portal will prompt attorneys when that section or other required sections haven’t been finished.

The new site should help information stay current as well. Attorneys can visit the site to update information anytime it changes. Information such as change of address is required to be updated within 30 days of a change.

Rath said the portal also is designed with the potential of expansion to ultimately include other areas of licensing requirements such as continuing legal education. He said the attorney database “is the foundation of so much of the work we do.”

Check, please

The introduction of online registration last year required attorneys for the first time to pay fees electronically.

Rath said enough people voiced a desire to pay by check that the option will be made available on the site this year. People at larger firms who file registrations on behalf of numerous attorneys were among those who wanted to pay by check for record-keeping purposes, he said.

In another change, attorneys will no longer receive notices in the mail about registration, Little said. Those notices now will be sent by email to the email address on file with the clerk.

Letters will be mailed to newly admitted attorneys registering for the first time.

Dolan said current registration figures show 18,037 active attorneys; 2,908 inactive; and 16 on probation.•
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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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