A Crash Course: EFSPs and EFMs Explained the ImageSoft Way

By: Katie Pusz, Copywriter, ImageSoft


When you decide to roll out state-wide eFiling, you’ll start hearing a lot of E-words. “EFSP,” “EFM” and pretty much e-everything. Eeek, we know! Confusing as all the acronyms and terminology can be, being versed in this knowledge will be the difference between optimizing the most of your digital toolbox or keeping your state’s filers e-ternally confused.

Spending a few minutes on this short crash course will set you on the path to understanding what’s available for optimizing state-wide efficiency.

EFSP 101

Despite being thrown off by the acronym, your eFilers know EFSPs all too well. E-Filing service providers are the user interfaces that attorneys, pro se litigants, prosecutor’s offices and all other eFilers use to submit filings and new case requests to the court. EFSPs act as an “online clerk” augmenting and mimicking the filing process at the counter, with the added flexibility of anytime, anywhere filing. The EFSP also provides up-to-the-minute status updates on filings and keeps transaction history at a filer’s fingertips.

EFM 101

Once filed with an EFSP, the data is sent to the appropriate eFiling Manager. Also known as the clerk’s FilingReview interface, EFMs act as traffic managers for incoming filings from one or more EFSPs exposing and enforcing the court requirements for the data and documents.  The EFM also manages the roles and security rights of court personnel managing the filings. If integrated, the EFM can also exchange this data with the case and document management systems of the respective courts.

EFSP and EFM: Working Together

Now that you understand the function of each, let’s watch them work together.

ESFPs are your filers first point of contact. From there, ESFPs transmit information to EFMs, or clerks, who will sort the eFiled data and move it along. If, for example, a jurisdiction was using different CMS/DMS for different court types, EFSPs could feed the multiple EFMs to get the job done.

The collaboration of EFSPs and EFMs is also very fruitful. First and foremost, it empowers filers with flexibility and options in terms of where and when they want to file, which translates into five-star customer service. In terms of cost savings, travel between the courts is eliminated, and so are the expenses of postage, paper, and ink. Truly the gift that keeps on giving, optimal customer service and multi-faceted cost savings is shared by all filers and the courts.

One great example of the collaborative power between EFSPs and EFMs is TrueFiling. A web-based portal for electronic filing, TrueFiling’s primary components are the EFSP and EFM, and the payment processor. It’s also ECM-conformant to support standard integrations, and powerful enough to serve and support highly-configurable and multi-jurisdictional needs.

Together with OnBase, TrueFiling is the preferred eFiling solution for courts, attorneys, and pro se litigants across the nation. The standard for enterprise content management (ECM), OnBase is a secure storehouse and workflow hub for all your data storage and communication needs.

The ImageSoft Way

Don’t sweat it if your court is already working with existing EFSPs or EFMs (or both!). Our innovative approach to implementation accounts for that and can integrate existing EFSPs to TrueFiling’s EFM, or vica versa, with an ECF-conformant link.

As a matter of fact, TrueFiling and OnBase solutions were designed specifically to accommodate several types of eFiling court configurations:

TrueFiling Hosted Courts: For courts new to eFiling, ImageSoft’s hosted TrueFiling and OnBase solutions will be used for filing and managing electronic documents.

Local On-Premise Courts: For courts that have already invested in an EDMS, ImageSoft provides the option to use either a hosted or local filing review while archiving and storing all eFiled documents in OnBase.

Third-Party Hosted Courts: Courts currently using an EFM from a different vendor will receive ImageSoft support for its third-party EFMs and EFSPs while eFiled documents are archived and stored in either OnBase or the court’s existing repository.

Choosing TrueFiling also means added value with the electronic commerce module, which allows filers access to court-approved electronic case files. With the electronic commerce module, courts can give filers the option of viewing and/or purchasing the entire list of filings associated with a case.

Tell Me More About TrueFiling!

Whether you feel that TrueFiling is definitely right for you, or you just want to learn more about all things “e,” send us a message. Our product experts and representatives love to chat about e-everything.

If you’re already using eFiling, how could you take efficiency to the next step? If you’re not, what’s holding you back?



What Is An “EFM”, and Why Should I Care?

When I first started watching Star Trek, which was well after it was cancelled, I didn’t see them in order and had no background as to the “universe” in which the stories were supposedly taking place.   Among other things, I used to chuckle at the fact that everyone, aliens of all stripes, as well as humans, always understood each other.  It didn’t matter if the aliens were of long-standing acquaintance, or if they came from a hither-to unknown galaxy or dimension– everyone spoke and understood English.

Later I came to find out that somewhere in the storyline, Gene Roddenberry, creator of the Star Trek series, had provided a technological (if fictional) explanation: The Universal Translator.  A handy thing to have when you’ve got people speaking a lot of different languages and don’t know what the next one will be.


So what does this little vignette have to do with document management for courts?  Well, the same principle applies in the realm of e-filing.  Consider: When a court implements an e-filing solution (EFS), it can tell its partners — attorneys, prosecutors, and others — how the documents are to be submitted.  The rules, processes, and protocols revolve around the particular court practices, as well as the technological structure and needs of thee e-filing system.  The filers can incorporate those rules and standards into their practices, and all is good.

Everything works well, until….  another court decides to implement e-filing.  Since there’s going to be a certain number of filers who file with both courts, their lives just got a bit more complicated.  Now, the second court can elect to implement the same type of EFS and do everything the same way as the first court.  Or, all courts in an area could decide, beforehand, which EFS they’d all get, etc., etc.

The point is, there’s likely to be variety.  Even worse, it’s hard to predict just WHEN or WHERE the variety will emerge.  Courts may not, as a matter of course, keep track of what OTHER courts their business partners do business with are doing.  Often, after years of operating in blissful independence, separate “islands” find themselves connected.  For example, formerly “local” law firms may expand to a regional scope.  Increasing world shrinkage, caused by faster communications, may give rise to more jurisdictional overlap.  And so on.

Enter the Electronic Filing Manager (EFM).  Like the Star Trek “Universal Translator”, the EFM allows each court to conduct e-filing activities with multiple filers, many of whom must deal with different courts that speak varying e-filing “languages”.

The EFM works by providing one common set of protocols that users of any e-filing system can use.  The filers then send their documents to the EFM[BL1] .  On the other end, each court provides the EFM with its e-filing technical standards and requirements.  The EFM can then “translate” the information from each e-filer into the format required by the particular court.

The key to this solution is the use of a common EFM by all of the courts in the area.  To this end, some states have started to provide for the introduction of EFMs to facilitate statewide e-filing. Doing so allows each court to continue to implement any new system or to use whatever e-filing system it has already implemented.  In all cases, e-filers will be able to e-file in all courts in one way, using the same process, thereby removing one of the greatest impediments to full scale e-filing.

As we are all finding out, an awful lot of what was science fiction in the ’60s is, or will become, the reality of our age.  With the advent of Electronic Filing Managers, chalk up another one for Gene Roddenberry.