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Make Your Litigation Life Easier with Adobe Acrobat Pro, Part One: Four Tips on Preparing Your Files

Preparing disclosures and handling discovery can be a challenge for small litigation firms. They can also be a challenge for smaller matters, because discovery drives so much of the cost of litigation. In these situations, finding efficient solutions to the rising cost of discovery is key. Adobe Acrobat Pro is an important tool that can help you handle discovery and disclosures much more efficiently. In this post, we’ll outline some of our favorite tips on using Adobe to prepare your files during discovery.

Four Tips on Preparing Your Files 

1. Gather files in digital format when possible.

One tip to streamlining the process and potentially saving costs is to gather files in a digital format when possible. In preparing your disclosures, you will usually receive multiple files, records, and other documents from your clients. In receiving discovery, you will receive more files. To the extent that you can, ask for files to be produced in digital format. Digital files can be more easily processed and shared efficiently in discovery. 

By requesting digital format you might be able to avoid getting stacks of paper that you have to sort through. This may be from a client who has paper. It may be from opposing counsel. We have, on occasion, received a stack of paper from opposing counsel, who appeared to have deliberately shuffled the papers. While requesting digital copies won’t necessarily prevent these issues (we’ve received PDFs from opposing counsel where important emails appeared to have been broken up and inserted a few pages at a time into irrelevant documents), it can potentially reduce the risk.

2. Capture documents electronically, even if you like to read paper.

How you review documents is up to you. Some prefer to review paper, while more people nowadays prefer to review them electronically. If you review documents electronically, it is easier to add bookmarks or make electronic notes on a version that you save for your own use. But whichever way you choose, at some point, capture all the documents electronically. Not only does this have the potential to save some trees, but it can also allow you to quickly place your finger on important documents at a later date. 

3. OCR (recognize text) as you scan.

If you are following the previous tip, you may find yourself in the position of having to scan paper records into a digital format. When scanning documents, be sure to set the scanner to OCR (recognize text) the documents. Scanning may take a bit longer, but then the documents are ready to be searched. We love our Fujitsu ScanSnap, which makes it very easy to process documents. If your scanner does not have this function, you can use Adobe to recognize text and make the PDF searchable (we’ll talk more about how to do that in Part two of this series). Being able to search for key words in voluminous records is often key to efficiently preparing for dispositive motions or trial.

4. For production, turn documents into PDFs.

Once your client’s documents are captured electronically, turn them all into PDFs for disclosures. (If your exchange of discovery provides for electronic discovery or producing documents in native formats, such as the .eml format, produce in the required format.) This will not only permit you to exchange the records efficiently, but it also protects the records from tampering.

Adobe Acrobat Pro should not be confused with the free Acrobat Reader. Acrobat Pro requires either a paid-subscription or paid-software download. We prefer the subscription service because you can rest assured that you have the most up-to-date version with the latest features. 

In the next post in this series, we’ll share some of our favorite ways to use Adobe Acrobat Pro in litigation. 

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More articles in this series: Part 2
Featured Image: "Unnamed" by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash.
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