I make no secret about the fact that I am a big fan of Adobe Acrobat. I use it every day and consider it an integral part of my paperless practice. That being said, I recognize the Acrobat has a some flaws that I don’t like and that it is not inexpensive. Although, I will also note that, although no inexpensive, Adobe Acrobat is not really expensive when compared to specialized legal (or other industry) software.
Nevertheless, there are other options available. One of my favorites is from Nitro. In addition to their full-featured Nitro PDF Professional OCR (which retails for $119.99), Nitro has also released a free version of their software, Nitro PDF Reader, that does much more than just read PDFs.
In addition to just viewing PDF files, you can use Nitro PDF Reader to create PDF files, add notes to PDFs, type on PDFs, complete and save forms, and create and apply signatures. For a full list of what Nitro PDF Reader can do, click here.
There are a lot of things to like about Nitro’s PDF products. However, you can hardly go wrong trying their free reader and see how it works for you. If your use of PDFs is limited to viewing, creating, and filling in a few forms, then y0u may be able to meet your needs without spending a cent.
I work with PDFs a lot. I can’t tell you the last time I pulled a paper file to look at a document in it. Instead, I look only at my electronic copy of a file. Navigating in a PDF, however is not always the easiest thing to do, especially if the creator did not include bookmarks or other reference points.
An additional problem can arise when you are working with a document that has different styles of page numbers. An example is a brief, that may include pages i through x for the prefatory matters and Arabic numbers after that.
At her blog Going Paperless, Molly DiBianca, provides a useful, easy to follow, step-by-step tutorial on how to remumber your pages in a PDF.
The process she describes is easy to do and it is post I definitely recommend that you check out.
Rick Borstein comes through with another great way to use PDFs in your legal practice: Adding dynamic exhibit stamps.
Since PDF is the defacto (or often mandated) eFiling standard, it didn’t come as a surprise that I’ve received a few emails on this exhibit stamping PDFs over the last couple of years.
I’ve written previously about creating custom stamps, but an Exhibit Stamp has both a static graphic element and a changing numeric or alphabetic element. I have proposed a workaround using watermarks and the typewriter tool to some firms, but that still was a lot of work.
Only recently have I come across an elegant solution that can accomplish both steps with a click! When you stamp the document, Acrobat will ask you for the exhibit number, then stamp it on the document.
This is a great solution and anyone who uses PDFs in their practice should check it out.
Go here to get directions on how to install this stamp.
Also, once you have applied your stamps, don’t forget to flatten your page. Rick has instructions in his post on how to do that. You can find an alternative method of flattening here.
Today I had two reviews published by the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section in their Law Practice Today webzine.
The first is a review of UltraMon, a product I have used for years. If you use multiple monitors, you definitely need to check this utility out.
The second is a review of Nitro PDF PRo. I have use this program just during the last few months. During that time, however, I have been very impressed with the options it has to handle PDFs.
Go here for further information on UltraMon and here for further information on NitroPDF Pro.
I know that I have written before about creating a digital signature. (Just to clarify, by digital signature, in this instance I am talking about a digital picture of your physical signature.)
Ernie Svenson recently announced that he was putting on a CLE seminar on digital workflow. As Ernie explained at the time:
In the past two years I’ve given several presentations on ‘Digital Workflow,’ or how to make your law practice less dependent on paper. Whenever I give this talk the room is always packed with people who want to know the step-by-step process of becoming more digital.
About six months ago Dane Ciolino and I were tapped to give this presentation together, which was great because, over the years, Dane and I have often had lunch together to talk about our ‘paperless law practices’ and share ideas on how to make things better. So presenting together was a lot of fun for us, and (from the feedback we got) entertaining and informative for the audience.
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It occurred to us that there’s a big demand for this kind of information, and it’s not really being presented very often around Louisiana. So, we decided to take the bull by the horns and put on our own CLE Seminar. The idea is to create a group of basic, intermediate, and advanced sessions. And to present them on a fairly regular basis. We’re going to start with a 3 hour session on December 12th, in the morning. For more information, and to register for the seminar, click here.
Since then, they have added several useful pages to their CLE website, including a page on the IRS requirements for keeping records electronically and basics on scanning. The page that caught my eye, however, was on digital signatures.
This is a great resource and I urge you to check it also. Also, if you are anywhere near where Ernie is giving one of his presentations, I would suggest that you attend that as well, if at all possible.
The Greatest American Lawyer recently suggested a viable alternative to Adobe Acrobat: Nitro PDF. Most Acrobat alternatives do nothing more than simply create PDFs. In my mind, that is not the purpose of Adobe Acrobat. It has many more features that allow you to comment on or otherwise handle your PDF documents. According to GAL, Nitro PDF includes these features:
You need to do more than read PDF documents. You need to be able to engage in mark-up, editing, commenting, and creating PDF documents. I have been using both Nitro and Adobe products for years. I have always been shocked at how good Nitro is at mimicking the Adobe Standard functionality.
I have not tried Nitro PDF before, but it sounds like they have the right idea here. If you are looking for a full featured PDF program and don’t want to buy Acrobat, now might be the time to check out Nitro PDF. The regular price is $99. However, Nitro PDF has a Christmas special that is valid unit December 19. The special pricing is $49.50.
As GAL noted in his post, even if you already have a full version of Acrobat, Nitro makes a good option to give your staff full PDF functionality without the cost of Acrobat.