Louisiana’s 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office Moves Cases Forward Faster
We have the pleasure of hearing from lots of customers about how they’re steering transformation at their organization using DocuSign solutions. Recently, we talked to Mary Strahan, assistant district attorney in Louisiana’s 22nd Judicial District. Straight out of law school, Mary found her niche in the D.A. office’s child support division, where she plays a vital role in helping ensure Louisiana parents consistently meet their financial obligations.
But when it comes to requesting and enforcing child support orders, there are hoops to jump through and lots of paperwork to sign. Historically, that was primarily done through face-to-face appointments.
With DocuSign eSignature, Mary’s division was able to:
- Improve outreach using modern channels constituents prefer, including SMS
- Completely eliminate the office file room
- Significantly reduce court processing times
- Prove receipt of important documents in court using digital audit trails
Here are some highlights from our chat with Mary about how the D.A.'s office is using eSignature and the benefits it’s seen so far.
Tell us about your role and how you ended up where you are today.
I finished my undergrad with an English degree and thought what am I supposed to do with this? So, I decided to go to law school. I graduated law school in 2015 and got the job at the D.A.’s office where I’ve kind of found my spot in child support. I get a bit of courtroom time, research time, writing time…and I get to use technology. It’s the best of all worlds.
What challenges led you to DocuSign?
When I first started working at the D.A.’s office, we were having people make an appointment to physically come in and sign paperwork. It just wasn’t efficient. I can't remember the exact case or issue that came up, but we were trying to figure out a workaround for a signature. I remembered hearing about electronic signatures in law school, which was a relatively new thing, but it stuck with me.
Thinking about before and after: Where have you seen the greatest impact?
When I was a student intern, we had all these different stacks of folders that we’d pull one at a time to prepare pleadings. Now, we no longer even have a file room. Our process time is significantly reduced. From start to finish, we have a court date set by the end of the week—and that’s because we’ve automated the process using DocuSign eSignature.
Which use case did you focus on first—and how has it evolved from there?
We started using eSignature for what we call a Statement of Arrears, where the custodial parent certifies as to what payments they’ve received. And then it’s just grown from there. We’ve created PowerForms to make it easy for parents to apply for child support. We send judgments, pay instructions, brochures, questionnaires, income and expense information. We’ve also created all sorts of educational documents that explain the process. So, we’re using DocuSign to make that initial contact and establish a relationship with them early on.
What’s your preferred channel for sending documents?
I like the SMS feature. We’ve found that people are more likely to respond to text messages than email just because it’s simpler. The people we see are generally younger and better with technology. They can fill out everything we send them on their smartphone, which just fits their lifestyle better.
Do you have a favorite DocuSign moment?
A favorite moment was being able to submit the DocuSign audit trail as evidence in court. One person claimed they never received anything from us—that we didn’t contact them at all. I was able to pull up the complete envelope history and show that not only did they receive it—they reviewed it. A new law in Louisiana allows you to serve people by email as long as you can prove delivery. With DocuSign, we have the read receipt.
What’s next for the D.A.’s office?
We’re looking at other agencies and integrating eSignature into what they do. Eventually, I see us being 100% paperless. There are some cases where we need to send a process server out to complete an affidavit—but once we get remote notarization in place, we’ll be able to do everything online.
What advice would you give others who are just starting their DocuSign journey?
You can’t be afraid to mess up. Some trial and error needs to happen. I learned by playing with it. If you’re willing to put the effort in, the opportunities are really unlimited. If you can think a bit out of the box about what you're trying to accomplish, DocuSign most likely has a tool for it.