If you are tethered to a desktop workstation or laptop, PDF program heavyweights like Adobe and Nuance are probably the best programs to use to tackle any task you have with a PDF. But, what if you have the urge to read and review case documents on the go?
BY JAMES STONE
With most litigation now operating within the confines of electronic filings through federal and state court sponsored e -filing systems, almost all court filings and depositions come into a lawyer’s hands in PDF (Portable Document Format) format. Most, if not all, trial lawyers use, or should be using, a robust PDF software at their offices to read, review, search, mark -up and even Bates-stamp PDF documents throughout the life of a case. If you are tethered to a desktop workstation or laptop, PDF program heavyweights like Adobe and Nuance are probably the best programs to use to tackle any task you have with a PDF.
But, what if you have the urge to read and review case documents on the go? Traditionally, lawyers would print those documents and stick them in a 3-ring binder, making the documents more “mobile.” However, the advent of the iPad has ushered in a new era for lawyers who want the ability to work on the go (or at least work away from their computers).
There are few great PDF applications available for the iPad. One such program, iAnnotate, provides lawyers the ability work w ith PDFs almost as if they were looking at it at their computer, if not more so. iAnnotate is a powerful PDF application that allows searching, highlighting, document markup tools, and other features normally reserved for Adobe Acrobat and other robust PDF software built for desktop computing.
Tools available include: pencil (various colors), pen (various colors), highlighter (various colors), comment box, text box, bookmarks, and stamps. You can even insert and attach pictures inside of a PDF as an additional mark -up tool. These tools are handy for reading and reviewing depositions, transcripts, medical records, or other voluminous PDFs that normally occupy a handful of 3-ring binders.
Marking up your documents is easy. You simply select the tool you wish to use, and then select the part of the document you w ant to mark up. Once you make your changes to a PDF, you can then go through a process that “flattens” your changes to that document. Essentially, this process saves your changes to the document and doesn’t allow anyone to modify any changes you have made. This is a good tool if you plan to share your work with anyone outside of your firm.
Organizing your documents in this program is relatively easy. The application operates like a standard file repository you see on your desktop. You can create different folders for your cases inside of the app, with additional subfolder if you wish to add them. You can even replicate the framework of your digital case file on your server or cloud service.
There are many ways to import your PDF files into iAnnotate. One such method is the media transfer protocol through iTunes. This method requires you to plug you iPad up to your computer, open iTunes, and drag and drop the document in the iPad. Unless you have a lot of experience with this method, it can be a little daunting.
Probably the easiest method is to import the document to iAnnotate through your cloud service app already installed on your iPad. If you use a service like Dropbox, Box, or OneDrive, all you do is open the document in that app, select the “Open in Another App” button, and pick iAnnotate as the destination app. This method can also be used for documents you receive via email or other me ssaging applications.
To share your marked-up copy of your PDF, you can either email it using the built -in Mail application on you iPad, or you can “share” it to any app you chose, whether it is the cloud services application where the document originated or another email ap-plication (e.g., Outlook). W hen sharing the file, you are presented with the option of sending the annotated version (the version that can be viewed and modified with any other PDF application), the flattened copy (where your edits cannot be modified), or the original (no mark ups or annotations). If the PFD is a large file, such as extensive medical records, you can opt to send only those pages that contain annotations. This can be useful in your mission to isolate your “hot-docs.”
The only thing iAnnotate lacks, and for good reason, is the ability to OCR (Optical Character Recognition) PDFs. Because of t hat, you will need to make sure your PDFs have been OCR-ed before importing them into iAnnotate. If you do not, the program will only work in to a minimum degree and you not get the full value of the product.
iAnnotate is available on iTunes for $9.99. However, the return you get for that $10 investment is exponential.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
James Stone practices in the Atlanta office of Boone Law where his practice areas include products liability, medical neglige nce, wrongful death, and personal injury, as well as commercial and consumer litigation. He is a member of the Verdict Editorial Board and a 2017 graduate of the GTLA LEAD Program. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.