On September 29, 2020, the Chief Administrative Judge of the New York Courts issued an Administrative Order amending Rule 6 of the Rules of Practice for the Commercial Division of the New York State Supreme Court.
The amendment, which took effect earlier this week on November 16, 2020, consists of adding subsections (b) and (c) to Rule 6 concerning the use of hyperlinks in electronically filed documents.
I like two aspects of this new rule and I hope it becomes a model for other courts in the country. First, it forces parties to hyperlink to their record. And second, it encourages parties to hyperlink to authority.
New Rule 6(b) provides:
For purposes of this Rule, a hyperlink means an electronic link between one document and another, and a bookmark means an electronic link permitting navigation among different parts of a single document. Material made accessible by hyperlinking does not thereby become part of the record, and citations to authorities shall appear in standard citation form, even if also hyperlinked.
New Rule 6(c) provides:
Each electronically submitted memorandum of law or other document that cites to another document previously filed with NYSCEF shall include a hyperlink to the NYSCEF docket entry for the cited document enabling access to the cited document through the hyperlink. Hyperlinks may not provide access to documents filed under seal or otherwise not in the public record. Cited documents filed with NYSCEF that are accessible through bookmarks in the electronically submitted document need not also be hyperlinked.
(1) The Court may require that electronically submitted memoranda of law include hyperlinks to cited court decisions, statutes, rules, regulations, treatises, and other legal authorities in either legal research databases to which the Court has access or in state or federal government websites. If the Court does not require such hyperlinking, parties are nonetheless encouraged to hyperlink such citations unless otherwise directed by the Court.
(2) If a party certifies in good faith that it cannot include hyperlinks as required by his Rule or the Court without undue burden, due to limitations in its office technology or other showing of good cause, the Court may excuse the party from any otherwise applicable hyperlinking requirement.
A copy of the Order itself can be downloaded here.
Why should lawyers consider using hyperlinks when citing either the record or authority?
As Elizabeth M. Sacksteder, a member of the Commercial Division Advisory Council, observes, “In addition to the other reasons discussed in the memorandum, the current pandemic starkly illustrates the timeliness, practicality, and utility of this amendment. Many judges and their staff have been working remotely, using the electronic versions of e-filed papers rather than hard copies. Having hyperlinks in those electronic filings to other cited filings in the record, and to cited authorities, will be a tremendous time-saver for chambers that no longer have access to the hard-copy court file and now have no choice but to work exclusively with electronic versions of filings. Remote working has likewise accustomed many practitioners to greater dependence on electronic documents, in which hyperlinks will offer parallel time-saving and convenience. In the current environment of remote work—which may persist for weeks or months, and is likely to make lasting changes in court operations and law practice—the case for hyperlinking has never been more timely or compelling.”
So how do you do it? Most text editors give users the ability to manually create hyperlinks one at a time. The process isn’t particularly complex but it does consume a lot of time and effort. The alternative is to use a service like TypeLaw and let our software automate a lot of that work for you.
Lawyers and their staff can use TypeLaw to quickly update citations, build tables, insert bookmarks, and hyperlink authorities for any brief in any court in the United States. If you’re interested, you can schedule a quick 20-minute zoom demo with TypeLaw and learn more about how it can save you time and improve the quality of your brief.