Effective PDF Management for Legal Professionals

13 June 2024 by ROSS eDiscovery PDFs litigation

Takeaway: For basic PDF editing tasks, software such as Adobe Acrobat Pro, NitroPDF, or PDFExpert is adequate. However, investing in eDiscovery software is a wise choice for comprehensive and litigation-specific needs,. eDiscovery tools offer advanced features like creating true PDFs, conducting thorough keyword searches across various file types, redacting sensitive information, applying Bates stamps, and preserving crucial metadata. For a user-friendly eDiscovery solution, consider trying GoldFynch’s subscription service tailored for legal professionals.

PDFs are the preferred format for legal documents due to their security and consistent formatting across different platforms. Created by Adobe in the 1990s, PDFs maintain their layout regardless of the device or operating system, making them ideal for sharing. This consistency is critical for legal documents as it ensures any alterations leave a traceable electronic trail, which is crucial for court proceedings. However, this same feature makes PDFs challenging to edit.

For those outside the legal profession, there are several paid PDF editing applications available to aid their PDF editing process:

  • Adobe Acrobat Pro: The most secure and user-friendly option.
  • NitroPDF: A reliable alternative for Windows.
  • PDFExpert: Suitable for macOS users.
  • ABBYY FineReader: Compatible with both Windows and macOS.

Free options include LibreOffice, Sejda, PDFescape, and Small PDF, though they offer limited editing capabilities. Another method is to export the PDF into Microsoft Word for editing, though this is often cumbersome and less effective.

Legal Professionals often need more advanced tools for handling PDFs, especially for eDiscovery purposes. eDiscovery subscription services complement PDF editors by offering essential litigation-oriented features. Here are six critical tasks that eDiscovery software can help with:

1. Creating ‘True’ PDFs from Scanned Documents

There are two types of PDFs: ‘true’ PDFs (created from digital documents) and scanned PDFs (essentially images of documents). With a scanned PDF your computer cannot read the ‘text’ within the PDF, this makes the review process more difficult. eDiscovery tools use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to convert scanned PDFs into ‘true’ PDFs, making them fully searchable and editable.

2. Keyword Searches Across File Types

Unlike PDF editors that can only search within PDFs, eDiscovery software can search across various file types, including emails, spreadsheets, and Word documents. This universal search is vital for handling large datasets from multiple sources. Advanced search functions allow for complex queries, enhancing your ability to sift through vast amounts of information efficiently.

3. Redacting Privileged Information

eDiscovery tools provide sophisticated redaction capabilities. You can redact specific words, sentences, pages, or entire sections. These tools offer different modes for editing and final production. For example, during review when you apply a redaction it would be a translucent box, and when you produce the document it would be an opaque box. This ensures that redactions are appropriately applied and managed. Learn more about redactions here.

4. Editing Multiple PDF Layers

PDFs contain multiple layers, such as a base layer for all the text, an annotation layer for the comments and notes, and an authentication layer for signatures and stamps. When you edit one layer, eDiscovery software ensures that all other layers are adjusted accordingly, preventing inconsistencies and maintaining document integrity. In contrast, a PDF editor may find it difficult to do the same.

5. Bates Stamping Batches of PDFs

In eDiscovery, you often need to produce large volumes of documents. When producing documents you can retain them as PDFs or convert them to TIFFs or JPEGs. Bates stamping is a method of sequentially numbering pages across multiple documents, facilitating easy reference and organization. eDiscovery tools can automate this process, making it more efficient.

6. Protecting PDF Metadata

Metadata, which tracks a document’s history, is crucial in legal contexts. From a legal perspective, PDF editors have a disadvantage as they modify the metadata. eDiscovery software preserves metadata integrity, ensuring that any changes are recorded and the document’s digital footprint remains intact. This feature is essential for maintaining the authenticity of evidence.

Looking for eDiscovery Software to handle your PDFs? Try GoldFynch

GoldFynch is an online eDiscovery subscription services that has all the essential eDiscovery review tools that are required to handle eDiscovery for PDF files. It has a simple user friendly interface and you get a free case to try it out. Here are some other things you will like about GoldFynch:

  • It costs just $27 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know what you’re paying for exactly – its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.

  • It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing files is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up-front how much you’ll be paying. You can upload and cull as much data as you want, as long as you stay below your storage limit. And even if you do cross the limit, you can upgrade your plan with just a few clicks. Also, billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.

  • It takes just minutes to get going. GoldFynch runs in the cloud, so you use it through your web browser (Google Chrome recommended). No installation. No sales calls or emails. Plus, you get a free trial case (0.5 GB of data and a processing cap of 1 GB) without adding a credit card.

  • It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch, and you’re good to go. Plus, you get prompt and reliable tech support.

  • Access it from anywhere, and 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the cloud.

Want to find out more about GoldFynch?