Frequently Asked Questions About Mandatory Opening of Civil Cases

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Q: Is training mandatory?
A. No. However, new case filing by attorneys is completely new to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and there is a lot of room for error. Deficiency notices will be sent to the judges and placed on the public docket when errors are made. In addition, training may not be readily available after July 1, 2012. Therefore, we strongly encourage training to make this transition as easy as possible for both attorneys and Clerk’s Office staff.

Q: Is everyone in the firm required to attend training?
A: No. A paralegal or administrative assistant may attend training in place of the attorney(s). We ask only that a list of the attorneys in that firm be provided to us so that the necessary case opening permissions can be given to their ECF accounts.

Q: Are attorneys outside the DC Metropolitan area required to attend training?
A: No. You can review our training materials online and fill out and sign the Out of Town Certification form. (http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/dcd/ecf-information)

Q: What is considered “outside the DC Metropolitan area”?
A: Generally, attorneys in Virginia and Maryland that are over an hour away from the DC limits would be considered outside the DC Metropolitan area and can review training materials online, rather than appearing in person. This would also include all other out-of-state attorneys that may practice in our court.

Q: What are the requirements for hosting the training at our firm?
A: A minimum of 15 trainees are required to be present for training at a law firm or other agency. Required equipment includes: a screen that everyone can view, a computer/laptop, and an internet connection. Also, the firm must be within walking distance of a Metro station. To schedule group training, call Joe Burgess or Tiffany Reed.

Q: I am a criminal attorney, pro hac vice attorney, or a pro se party with ECF filing privileges. Should I receive training?
A: No. Mandatory case opening is only for civil complaints filed by active members of the bar of this court.

Q: When I click on a date on the training calendar, it says the sign up is closed. What do I do?
A: Training classes are booked for all of March and most of April. You may check for availability for the end of April and May. Training classes for June will be available in the near future.