Technology is shaping the world. Organizations and businesses are changing processes and embracing technology solutions – increasing efficiency and reducing costs.
The court system is no different. According to the US Courts, with the judiciary’s Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system documents like motions, petitions, and pleadings can be filed electronically. With a computer and the internet, you can automatically send critical documents. It not only helps lawyers and citizens working with the court, but the judiciary works more efficiently. Files are easier to manage electronically.
Today, many courts across the country will only read documents filed electronically. If the electronic files are easy to manage and read digitally, they are even more likely to be used. It is critically important that digital documents are sent to the courts as a legally compliant PDF.
In this article, we’ll examine the format of a legal compliant PDF as well as look at different solutions for legal document management, so you and your firm are ready as the courts continue to embrace digital solutions.
What is a Legal Compliant PDF?
While there are a few options when it comes to submitting electronic documents to the court, we’ll only be looking at the legal compliant PDF. It is the most widely-used format and has clear advantages over other options.
The Portable Document Format (PDF) was developed for Adobe in 1992 as part of the paper-to-digital project. It was developed as an open standard for electronic document management. Any application could capture a document as a PDF. It could be sent electronically, and then be viewed and printed from almost any other machine.
Today, the PDF is widely accepted across the world. The standard is maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). PDF offers several advantages for the courts and judiciary:
- Accessibility: Any computer or system that has the free Adobe Acrobat software installed can open and view a PDF.
- Stability: A PDF retains the original layout, graphics, font, and pagination. With a PDF, the document you send the court is the one the court will read.
- Security: The PDF will track any changes made to the document. When a change is made, an electronic footprint is left in the file.
It might seem easy to prepare a document as a PDF, but there are steps you can take to ensure it is a legal compliant PDF. The following tips will help you prepare legally compliant electronic court documents that are also easy to read and use.
Tips to Improve Legal Document Management
For court-friendly electronic document filing, not all PDFs are created equal. There are steps you can take to improve how efficient and readable your PDF is for the court.
Use Only Text-based PDFs
When converting a document to a PDF, you should convert directly from the word processor. This will create a clean, efficient document that allows the text to be searched. You don’t want to scan a printed document to create a PDF. This will create an image-based PDF that will be of lower-quality and isn’t searchable.
Bookmark the PDF
Long documents can be difficult to navigate, especially in an electronic format where you can’t flip pages. You can bookmark a PDF to make it easier to navigate and find specific sections. Once you add bookmarks to the file, they will be listed in a navigation panel to the left of the document. Users can click on a bookmark and navigate directly to that section.
Review the Format
Your goal should be to make the document as easy to read as possible. Before sending the document, review the font to ensure it is clear and readable. Use short paragraphs with heads and subheads that guide the reader to critical information. Avoid long and overly complex sentences.
Reduce the Document Size
No one wants to work with large-sized documents that can hog memory and slow down a computer. Optimize your PDF before sending it. When you create the PDF directly from the word processor, you reduce the file size and increase the quality of the file. You can also reduce the file size with minimal loss in quality.
Managed Service Providers and Legal Document Management
Courts now rely on digital document management and electronic court filings. Law firms need to embrace technology to better work with the courts. Managed service providers like Blue Technologies, which specialize in legal and professional services, can help.
Working with a managed service company, you’ll discover how you can leverage existing technology solutions to increase efficiency and better serve your clients. Legal compliant PDFs is just one solution a managed service company can provide. Content management systems allow you to retrieve, organize, and better use electronic documents. You’ll work faster, eliminate hidden costs, and focus on more profitable work.
Talk to the experts at Blue Technologies to see how Managed Document Services can improve efficiency and reduce costs for you.