Saturday, April 12, 2008

PDF for Legal Professionals

Adobe Acrobat (PDF) has become the de facto standard in the legal profession for filing documents electronically with federal courts using the PACER system, and increasingly state courts.

Adobe sponsors an excellent blog -- Acrobat for Legal Professionals -- that is geared for lawyers who use PDF documents in their practice, whether it be for filing documents or using PDF to manage large document collections.

One of the most useful aspects of Adobe Acrobat, which is only found in the Professional version, is the OCR function, which can turn a large scanned document into a full-text searchable one. This is particularly useful for finding specific provisions in large contract documents.

Adobe Acrobat is also a very easy way to present exhibits during trial. For my last several trials, I converted all of my exhibits, both documents and photographs, to PDF and was able to present the information with little problem. The annotation and full-screen display features of Adobe Acrobat also help to highlight and make sense of text documents.

During a recent arbitration, I used a laptop computer hooked to a 20" flat screen display to display my exhibits using PDF. I was able to keep my client's photographs in front of the arbitrator through most of the proceeding. Opposing Counsel had nothing similar to present his evidence, and conceded afterwards that the photographs had tipped the outcome of the case in favor of my client.

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