Have you or your team of paralegals have ever spent hours compiling an appendix or a document production, only to discover a missing page that ruins your numbering system?  Have you ever been frustrated reviewing electronic documents because you spend more time opening files than reading content?  Have you ever wanted to search through a document set quickly, without having to upload documents to an outside vendor’s software?  If so, there’s likely a tool on your desktop that can help you solve those problems efficiently:  pdf software.  Even the most techno-phobic of partners has likely used Adobe’s Acrobat Reader: a simple click on a pdf attachment opens a document containing images and text.  But the lawyer’s toolbox should not stop at just opening documents; pdf software can enable more efficient document review and collection.  This article provides some tips and tricks on using pdf sofrware to handle a project quickly—and to take your office one step closer to a paperless office.  Anyone can create and modify pdf files using a wide variety of software.  The name most familiar for the job is Adobe’s Acrobat Pro, Pro Extended, or Standard.  Acrobat 9 Pro Extended won the Law Technology News award for product of the year in 2008, and its virtues are touted by many.  The software is expensive, however, and many law firms and small offices may be able to save significant cost by using a different vendor for some or all of their pdf licenses.  Software programs such as Nitro PDF Professional offer many of the same features available in Acrobat Pro.  The bottom line is to get to know the product your firm uses now.  When the next upgrade rolls around or your license is up, talk to your IT director about what makes most sense for your firm—you might be able to save money without losing much in terms of efficacy.  Bates stamp using pdf For large document projects, using a sophisticated outside vendor and/or your firm’s litigation support team may be the right answer.  But for smaller document reviews and productions, pdf software may provide a simple and easy way to review, compile, and Bates stamp your production without additional hassle or cost.  Using pdf software is certainly a lot easier than the old-fashioned method of having a secretary manually paste labels on each page! Pdf software enables you to choose the font, size, color and placement of your Bates stamp.  It also provides an easy tool to add page numbers and labels to evidentiary appendices.  Both Nitro and Acrobat provide Bates stamping tools, though they offer slightly different versions.  In Nitro, simply delete all the leader zeros to create a page numbering tool, for example “Evid. App. Page 1,” or leave in the leader zeros for a more traditional Bates stamp, for example “Casename000001.”  Acrobat permits between six and fifteen digits for Bates numbering, though you may be able to use less than six digits by changing the number after the # sign in the Bates header or footer text.  Acrobat offers some features Nitro does not.  Adobe permits the removal of Bates stamps, whereas in Nitro, once you have burned a Bates stamp, the stamp cannot be removed.  When using Nitro, I always save a “Bates” version and a “clean” version of all documents I work with.  If I need to renumber the document, I simply modify as needed, save a new “clean” version, and re-Bates.  Adobe also permits you to Bates stamp multiple files and folders.  In Nitro, you must individually stamp each file, or first combine all the files in the order you wish into one pdf using the “combine multiple files” tool, then Bates stamp that large file.  Bates stamping is only the beginning—you can add confidential watermarks, Exhibit stamps, and even redaction boxes using Acrobat or Nitro.  Of course, if you redact text from a pdf by simply covering the text up with the box, make sure that when you produce the document, you do not simply produce the original document with a redacted box on top of it.  If you do, the opposing party may be able to delete the box or copy and paste the underlying text to learn what was redacted.  With the right know-how, though, you can create fool-proof redactions by printing image-only files or using a specialzed redaction tool.   Combining files and OCR When given a CD of documents containing hundreds or thousands of individual files, many in different formats, I combine the documents into one pdf file that I can review simply by clicking the forward button or searching through the text.  (As an aside, this trick also works well with photos.  Instead of sending friends and family a dozen pictures that must be individually opened, send them one pdf containing the same photos at the same resolution—they’ll thank you for the time and enjoy your pictures more.)  Many electronically produced documents, even if in pdf format, are searchable through the “Control-F” find function.  Acrobat Standard also offers the ability to OCR (optical character recognition) a document so that even hard-to-read scanned printouts are searchable; if your firm uses Acrobat Pro, you can even “batch OCR” so multiple files are OCR’d at the same time. Add, delete, and move pages or files Pdf software allows you to move pages to different places within a pdf, delete pages, and add pages to the pdf at any point in the file.  This function can prove very useful in creating evidentiary appendices or even document productions.  For example, to get a production set out the door quickly, particularly if determining what documents are responsive to what requests is not a problematic issue, the following paperless process can be used:  First, combine a set of documents into a single pdf that contains a manageable number of pages to review in one setting, somewhere between 500-1000 pages.  After reviewing that pdf on the computer, note in a separate file the page numbers of the nonresponsive and privileged documents.  Save a new file so not to lose your original documents and in the new file, delete the nonresponsive pages and extract the privileged pages so that you can later create a privilege log.  This new file contains only the documents you want produced, without printing a single piece of paper or having to upload documents into litigation support software such as CT Summation.  Repeat this process until you have reviewed all your documents, and then combine each new file into one large pdf, move any individual pages as need if you want the production in a particular order, and Bates stamp it.  Simple and easy—and without paper or additional software.  Likewise, pdf software can create evidentiary appendices easily and quickly.  Most importantly, you can make substitutions without hassle.  Delete the incorrect pages, and add in the correct pages with just a few clicks of a mouse.  Once an entire appendix is assembled and Bates stamped with a label and page number, it is easy to split the document into smaller parts to upload to an electronic filing system with a file size limitation.  Adding a cover page and table of contents to the front of each of the smaller parts can also be done easily. These are just a few tips on using pdf software.  You can also bookmark sections of briefs or memos; markup a document with highlights, text comments, and notes to other reviewers; and add digital signatures to a document.  The more you use pdf software, the more efficient and effective your practice can be. This column (or article) should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only.  Kara Moorcroft Kapke is a litigator based out of Indianapolis with the firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP.  Ms. Kapke specializes in products liability, media law, and civil rights litigation.Kara Moorcroft KapkeBarnes & Thornburg LLPIndianapolis, INKara.Moorcroft@btlaw.com
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