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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. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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