Saturday, August 18, 2007

Adobe Professional 8 for Advanced Users

By: Courtney David Mills
IPA Technology Director and Litigation Paralegal at Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman, P.C.

Several months ago I wrote an article introducing Adobe Professional 8, the latest and greatest in Adobe Acrobat family. Since that time, I have had time to look under the hood and play with some of Adobe’s more advanced features. These features move beyond the bates numbering, redaction and OCRing features discussed in the earlier article and aim to introduce more advanced features. This article will discuss the typewriter tool, form creator and Outlook functionality.

Typewriter Tool:

Adobe Professional 8 features a tool that was part of the upgrade package to Acrobat 7 (so you will not be blamed if you missed it). This tool features the ability to simply click and type directly on a PDF (regardless of whether the file is a PDF with text, a simple image or a PDF form). The typewriter tool can be accessed from the “tools” menu under “typewriter”. It is one of the most convenient and overlooked tools in Adobe. You can fill out PDF forms regardless of their formatting and you can make quick notes directly on PDF documents without using comment features. It can be used for filling out fax cover sheets that are saved as PDF images and to complete the IPA monthly luncheon reservation form (which is posted monthly on IPA’s website).

Form Creator:

The form creation tools in Adobe 8 are a vast improvement from previous versions. These tools essentially allow a user to take a PDF form that is a simple scanned image (much like the static forms stored on many websites). The user can run the form creation tool and Adobe will review the image and attempt to discern actually form fields. It will recognize the text of the document and try and isolate obvious fields (i.e. NAME: ____________________). It will also attempt to find check boxes and signature fields. All of the identified fields will then be converted to text boxes etc. It is a great tool for those who have PDF forms that they have to fill out as a matter of routine. This is especially true for most federal court websites that feature PDF as an acceptable file format and feature many court forms in PDF format.

Outlook Functionality:

The Outlook functionality is by far my favorite feature of Adobe Professional 8. Anyone who has worked on e-discovery projects knows that printing emails for paper production is sometimes simply not practical. Many times it is necessary to convert the email to an image format such as PDF or TIFF. PDF files have many advantages over TIFF files (it is like comparing plain text files to dynamic Word documents). Printing or converting email to PDF can be very messy and the resultant files usually have to be cleaned up to avoid misleading headers and footers (as well as issues with email attachments). For the first few months I was disappointed about this feature because this feature in Acrobat 8 did not function properly with Outlook 2007. The compatibility issue has since been addressed and it is a very helpful feature. It allows users to take select emails (or select email folders or subfolders in Outlook) and package the emails into a PDF file. This feature is very useful in litigation where discovery of email is becoming the norm. This practice maintains the searchability inherent with native or quasi-native production, alleviates some compatibility issues on the reviewers end, and will negate some concerns about tricky metadata. The PDF package of emails (wrapped into a single file) can be easily burned to a CD for production purposes. The recipient can easily navigate the production through Adobe Acrobat (even with the most basic Reader version) and can access attachments, etc.

In summary, Adobe Acrobat 8 is a very impressive tool that has features to please the common paralegal who would like to type notes on a PDF record or fill out a PDF form to more advanced features that are going to assist with e-discovery collection and production.

Blog of the Month:

Dennis Kennedy Blog: Dennis Kennedy is a well known legal techie and features very insightful articles and commentary on a wide range of legal tech issues.

Website of the Month:

Acrobat Solutions for legal professionals: This site is within Adobe’s primary site, but is specifically geared towards legal professionals. It features great articles and white papers on Adobe features for the legal field as well as free webinars on adobe features for legal professionals.