Friday, December 12, 2008

Hey You! Lawyer! You Need Adobe Acrobat!

I am a huge fan of Adobe Acrobat. It is the critical software in our paperless office. With the release of Version 9 Adobe has given us an epic product. This industry standard enables me to convert all communications (letters, pleadings, e-mails, and on, and on....) into one stable, universal format. Every piece of paper that comes in or goes out of my office is converted to a pdf, and stored in the electronic file for the related case. This process makes it less necessary (English majors don't attack me!) to walk down the hall to the file room to grab the paper file. With a simple mouse click any and all docs are visible right on my computer monitor. This electronic availability also allows me access to my work when I am at my desk, and when I am away from it. I can drag and drop a matter to my laptop and take it with me, or I can log into the office via remote computing technology and have access to all my files.

In our effort to "go green," we have adopted a policy of not even printing out a paper copy of the correspondence that we transmit to our clients. I write a letter, mail a hard copy to the client, and make a pdf copy for our records. I can foresee a time when I may expand the scope of this policy to include all correspondence (practically speaking there will always be a need to keep hard copies of pleadings and discovery).

But there is more to Acrobat. With its built in Bates numbering tool the software quickly and easily affixes sequential numbering to anything. Imagine the old days when you literally stamped for hours to index a thousand pages of discovery documents. That same task is now completed in seconds with Acrobat. The program also has an easy to use redaction tool. The program can search out particular words, phrases, numbers, in a document and then black them out. Or, you can manually go through a document on your screen, highlight content, and black it out. This is a great tool for redacting social security numbers, bank account numbers, etc.

As I have mentioned previously on this blog, Adobe has identified lawyers as a target market for Acrobat. As such, the company is adding features that lawyers want and use. Adobe likes us, and listens to us! The company also has a blog called Acrobat for Legal Professionals that includes a series of training videos created for lawyers.

There are lots of programs on the market that can convert stuff into pdf format. However, for ease of use, robustness, and scope of features, I have not come across anything that matches the superlative Acrobat. There are three versions: Pro Extended, Pro, and Standard. Standard lacks some of the features that will be widely used in a law office, and the Pro Extended version may be more than most of us need? I would suggest the Pro version as the best investment. Yes, the program is expensive (street price of $175.00 at; $239.99 at; $429.99 at, but worth the investment.


Lee Rosen said...

Great post and I agree completely. One way to get Acrobat - cheap - is to buy the Fujitsu ScanSnap S510 at Amazon. It comes with Acrobat 8.0 Standard for free (not the latest but still a great product). The package price is $399.

The ScanSnap is a great little scanner.

John E. Harding, JD, CFLS said...

Thanks Lee. And thanks for all your contributions to those interested in family law practice and practice management!

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