Make Your Litigation Life Easier with Adobe Acrobat Pro, Part Two: 12 Cool Things You Can Do


In this two-part series, we are exploring some ways that Adobe Acrobat Pro can make your life easier during litigation. In Part One, we focused on streamlining discovery, discussing how Adobe can help you better process a document production and produce your own documents more efficiently. In this Part Two, we highlight 12 cool things you can do with Adobe Acrobat Pro that you might not have tried before.

1. Reorganize your sequence.

Adobe allows you to organize the documents if pages are out of order, just by dragging and dropping. This can be a simple reorganization of a few pages, or you can create a summary of important records by putting emails in chronological order, for instance.

2. Combine your files.

You can combine as many files as you need into a single file. With multiple files, you can reorganize the sequence before you combine. Simply select “Tools”; “Combine Files” and choose the files you need. You can drag and rearrange the files from there. Once the files are in the order you want, click “Combine” and you’ll have a single PDF of all those records.

3. Delete irrelevant pages.

You can delete irrelevant pages that do not need to be produced for your discovery. You can easily do this by opening up the right sidebar on your PDF, selecting “Page Thumbnails,” selecting the page to delete, and clicking on the trashcan icon. Or select the page thumbnail and use “Control + Shift +D.” 

4. Copy or extract pages.

You can copy and extract pages to create important exhibits, or for a disclosures sequence. Adobe gives you the choice to delete the page when you extract it into a different file, or keep it in the original document. Depending on your purpose, you can save yourself a step if you need to remove the page, or keep your original version intact. Simply go to the Page Thumbnails tab in the right sidebar and select the “Options” icon and choose “Extract Pages.”

5. Recognize text.

You can “recognize text” to make the document searchable, if you forgot to “OCR” the documents when you originally scanned them, or if you received the documents as PDFs that weren’t searchable. Adobe Acrobat Pro is powerful this way. You can even “recognize” a whole series of files. Suppose that you receive 2,000 pages of PDFs from opposing counsel in 15 files that are not searchable. While you are wondering whether opposing counsel is that unsophisticated, or whether it was deliberate, you can tell Adobe to recognize all these files, and go to lunch. (You must have another activity planned, because you will not be able to use Acrobat for next hour or so, while it is recognizing files.) When you come back, the files will be saved as searchable files. To do this, go to “Tools” and select “Enhance Scans.” You can then choose “Recognize Text” and select a single file or multiple files. 

6. Redact portions of text.

You can redact privileged information on files quickly and easily. We have seen opposing counsel submit documents where privileged information had been blacked out with a felt tip pen. We can see what’s under that! Using Adobe is a more sophisticated and more effective way to redact privileged information. This requires two steps. When using Adobe Acrobat Pro, you must be careful not only to redact, but also to apply the redactions. What is underneath will not be permanently redacted until you apply the redactions. In one case, we received a production, where someone had gone through the documents and chosen the words to redact, but had forgotten to apply the redactions. This created a PDF where all the privileged information is outlined in a red box. Not a mistake you want to make, so be sure to apply the redactions! (We followed the ethics rules and didn’t peek, but it was tempting!) To start redacting, just go to “Tools” and select “Redact” under the “Protect & Standardize” option. Once the tool bar is displayed, select “Mark for Redaction,” being sure to apply the redactions as stated above.

7. Edit the files.

When necessary, you can edit files. For example, when printing emails, Outlook often puts the header of the individual who is printing the email. You may want to take off an email header, for instance, because it was sent to you. However, be careful here, because you don’t want to render your disclosures inauthentic. You can also add text, if you need to add a description or something else, or you can insert headers or footers. This is also a good way to create Exhibit stickers.

8. Bates-label your files.

You can Bates-label files very easily. You select one or multiple files and tell it to apply a Bates range. Some counsel like numbering their production from one to infinity. Sometimes, this method works well. In others, we prefer starting over with different types of documents, for instance, records from different parties. This lets us add more numbers later without everything being jumbled up. You can also be creative with the file names. To add Bates numbers, simply go to “Tools,” “Edit PDF” and select “Bates Numbering.” 

9. Produce files quickly and easily.

Once you’ve Bates-labeled your files, they are very easy to produce in some format like a secure Box folder, without worrying about printing and mailing. This efficient production saves resources and is convenient for both sides.

10. Hunt down information.

When you’re trying to figure out if your opponent produced something, or whether a document your client has given you is already in the record, it is easy to search your PDFs for relevant language. This is equally true for searching out important phrases in trial preparation. Make sure your PDF is recognizing text, though (see number five above!)

11. Bookmark and comment.

Creating a working or notes copy of a file can also help you organize your own notes on the records. As you prepare for dispositive motions or trial, you can easily add bookmarks to longer documents so that you can find information quickly. Similarly, you can add comments on your own version of the documents. Adding bookmarks is simple, and in fact, when you combine files into a single PDF, the combined file will automatically contain bookmarks of the titles of the individual files. If you want to add bookmarks, simply open the right sidebar and select “Bookmarks.” There you can add, delete, or rename the bookmarks to suit your needs.

12. Prepare your trial exhibits.

And once you are ready, you can move all the PDFs you need into software like TrialPad, for easy presentation during trial. Even if you are going to print them out, Adobe Acrobat makes it easier to find and label them. 


More articles in this series: Part 1
Featured Image: "Unnamed" by Rawpixel on Unsplash.

Because of the generality of the information on this site, it may not apply to a given place, time, or set of facts. It is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations