We'd Like Your Input on One Legal's New Deadlines and Urgent Court Filing Service
Though we try not to devote too much of the blog to posts about our own services, the comments and questions we’ve received about our new deadlines and Urgent Court Filing Service made us think it would be a good idea to post an explanation and ask for your input.
On June 27th, One Legal extended many of its deadlines for individual courts later in the day by 30 to 90 minutes. We also introduced our Urgent Service for $49.95, which replaced our On Demand service that was available for $40 with the major change being that we now charge the Urgent Service fee for a same day filing submitted during the last 60 minutes before deadline. The bottom line is that in many courts we can now file later in the day, but we charge extra for it during the last hour. Our Urgent Service is a higher level of service, with confirmation calls automatically made to a customer when a filing is received and again when it has been filed at the court and expedited caption pages when possible.
The response from customers has ranged from “Thank you!” to “How dare you?”
We spoke with many of our customers before introducing this service and explained to them the deteriorating situation in California’s courts. Over the past 4 years, the California Judicial Branch has had to cut more than $600 million from its budget and most of it has been in staff reductions. The result in most courts is fewer clerks, vacant cubes, closed windows and longer lines. It has frankly become very challenging to file during the last hour. In some courts, such as Stanislaus County, the court regularly posts messages on the door about early closures (“Court Closed at 2 p.m. Today”). As another example, The San Francisco Superior Court issued a news advisory yesterday saying layoff notices will be mailed to 200 employees as the court grapples with a $13.75 million deficit. Since January, we’ve been asking customers, “If we could offer a guaranteed service to file during that last hour, would you be willing to pay extra to cover the extra staff we’d need to do that job?” The answer was a resounding “Yes, just get it done.”
Photo of line to get into San Joaquin Superior Court.
Still, we were not able to talk with all of our customers prior to June 27th and for some the Urgent Service fee during the last hour has been a shock. Some have told us that the deadlines should be moved up earlier in the day so the Urgent Service fee only kicks in the hour after deadline, which would in effect create two deadlines. Others have told us that two deadlines would be too confusing.
So, we’d like to hear your input. Now we can’t change the situation in the courts, which are currently reviewing a proposed 8.8 percent reduction in their budget to address the $350 million that has been recently removed from the California Judicial Branch’s budget. (The Administrative Office of the Courts is already talking about furlough days, layoffs and reduced services.) But, we can change how we explain our deadlines.
If you have thoughts on our deadlines and our Urgent Service level, we’d appreciate it if you’d post them to this blog. You can post a comment right below this article. We want to hear how we can do a better job of communicating to our customers. These are challenging times and they are about to get more challenging in California. We want to make sure you are getting the best service we can offer.