It used to be that the cool kids wore PF Flyers. Now,
the cool lawyers use PDF files.
While there still may be some uncertainties about what
electronic court filing will ultimately look like, there
is little doubt that the Portable Document Format (PDF)
will be the standard file format for electronic filing.
The universality and acceptance of PDF and the free
Adobe Reader have made PDF documents a commonplace in
today’s practice of law. Few lawyers, however,
appreciate the extent of the functionality and features
of Adobe Acrobat (the standard program for creating
PDF documents), the free and low-cost alternatives to
Acrobat, and the ways in which PDF can address everyday
concerns about document control, security, and usability.
Both legal technologists and lawyers, including me,
argue that Adobe Acrobat (or a reasonably equivalent
program) is an essential tool in every lawyer’s
technology toolbox. David Master’s session on
Adobe Acrobat at ABA TECHSHOW® 2004 was
one of the highest rated and best-attended sessions
at the conference. David is finishing a book on Adobe
Acrobat for ABA Law Practice
Management Publishing that should be out in the
summer of 2004.
As lawyers, we probably fall into two groups these
days: those who have not started to use PDF yet and
those who do use PDF but know that they need to learn
ways to use it better. The following resources should
help both groups.
PDF for Lawyers is a blog that posts short articles,
tips, and links to resources focused on the use of PDF
by lawyers. This helpful site recently published an
excellent how-to guide on using Adobe Acrobat for OCR
as well as for image scanning.
Adobe Acrobat Family Page (http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/main.html)
Not just your ordinary vendor’s page, Adobe’s
Web site will get you up to speed on Adobe’s product
offerings, product comparisons and current deals and
it will also give you a good deal of useful information
about ways people use Acrobat.
PDFZone.com is one of the comprehensive PDF resources
now available on the Internet. The sheer volume of articles,
tips, news, and other information is staggering. PDFZone.com
is a great place to find and compare the free and low-cost
alternatives to Adobe Acrobat. It also offers an excellent
e-mail newsletter that I highly recommend.
Planet PDF (http://www.planetpdf.com)
Planet PDF is also a comprehensive resource on everything
PDF. If you can’t find what you need on Planet
PDF or PDFZone.com, I’ll be very surprised.
Status of Electronic Filing in Federal Courts
Lawyers usually think of PDF in terms of electronic
filing. This page is a great place to check the status
of what is happening in the world of electronic filing.
Adobe for Lawyers (http://www.llrx.com/features/adobeforlawyers.htm)
Ernest “Ernie the Attorney” Svenson wrote
this excellent PDF primer that is a great overview and
starting point for lawyers wanting to learn better ways
to use PDF.
Acrobatics with Adobe (http://www.masterslawfirm.com/CLE-Articles/AcrobaticsAdobe.htm)
This extended article from PDF guru David Masters is
a comprehensive and detailed look at Adobe Acrobat and
the many things you can do with it.
My Solution: eBriefs (http://www.lawofficecomputing.com/Reviewsdata/am02/my_solution.asp)
In this article, David Masters sets out in detail his
actual method of using Adobe Acrobat to create electronic
briefs. The result is a very practical and useful article.
Frequently Asked Questions on Adobe Acrobat
and PDF for Lawyers (http://www.denniskennedy.com/faqpdf.htm)
I wrote this list of 40 questions and answers about
PDF and Adobe Acrobat as a handout for an upcoming presentation.
I tried to take a basic approach to ask and answer the
questions many lawyers have about PDF and Adobe Acrobat.
If you spend some time with these resources, you can
fly to the top of the PDF class. Remember, it’s
not just the shoes.
A Note About This Column: I’m
very pleased to announce that starting next month, this
column will be written on an alternating monthly basis
by Tom Mighell and me. Tom, as many of you may know,
operates the Inter-Alia blog (http://www.inter-alia.net),
has expertise in both legal technology and legal research
and is well known for his ability to find useful links.
Dennis Kennedy (email@example.com)
is a computer lawyer and legal technology consultant
based in St. Louis, Missouri. He speaks and writes frequently
on legal, technology and Internet topics and was named
the 2001 TechnoLawyer of the Year by TechnoLawyer.com.
His highly regarded web site at www.denniskennedy.com
collects many of his articles and is the home of his