Understanding the hidden impact of PDFs to your firm
Part 1: A look at MasterFile & its Evidence Cruncher vs CaseMap & Acrobat Professional
Part 1: A look at MasterFile & its Evidence Cruncher vs CaseMap & Acrobat Professional
In their paper, “The Bell Curve & Documenting Indexing/Imaging”, CaseSoft suggests that for 100,000 document cases, simply add Acrobat to CaseMap and you’re good to go. We don’t think it’s that simple.
In part one of this two part series, we look how PDF documents impact your office and the challenges you’ll face. We compare managing PDFs with MasterFile and its Evidence Cruncher to CaseMap with Acrobat Professional and file folders. And we look at what the difference really means in a practical sense to you, the lawyer or litigator, in a small or solo practice with many cases, several professional staff and a busy schedule.
In part two, we look at CaseMap “Bates Numbers” and document naming conventions, CaseMap’s PDF Loader and DocPreviewer and discuss electronic ‘sticky notes’ and their limitations — all of which have an impact in your practice and increase your manual work.
Now it may seem a little strange to start a comparison with this topic, but we need to be sure about just exactly what it is we expect these products to do.
Comparing cars is a relatively easy task because we already understand what to compare: size, safety, comfort, gas efficiency, and so forth. However, PDF technology has so many facets, we need to first make sure we know which attributes are relevant to lawyers, litgators or investigators, to understand what exactly needs to be compared. When software vendors state “supports PDF”, or “allows PDFing”, or “Bates stamps PDF”, or “bulk loads PDF”, or “converts e-mails to PDF”, they are simply advising you that their product has PDF related technology. However, such statements are too vague and do not help to understand exactly how the product, or “just having” Acrobat, helps you or appreciate the very significant new problems they create for you. It would be like buying a tool box that just says “contains tools”.
PDF files and related technology do not exist in a vacuum and rather than what bells and whistles or ad-hoc PDF utilities a particular software product has, how smoothly the software lets you deal with PDF related issues you’ll face day-in day-out is paramount. This is especially critical to the lawyer, litigator or investigator with even just a dozen or two active files and several hundred PDF documents per case — that’s several thousand PDF files which will be generated in very short order.
Some of the issues you’ll be dealing with, therefore, include:
Once you begin to use PDF documents for even some of your work they quickly become “mission critical” and the last thing you need during a busy work day, faced with critical deadlines, is fiddling and tinkering with inadequate or multiple software packages cobbled together with myriad manual operations to “work as one” just to get simple tasks done. What you really need are industrial strength, professional power tools you can rely on — which won’t waste your time, nor let you down at a critical moment, nor make your work tedious and error prone.
It’s also critical to realize that it will not be just you who’ll be working the PDFs; your staff will too, and therefore, software requirements and related issues change quite dramatically. It’s one thing to use PDF just on your own desktop but it’s quite another to reliably administer thousands of PDF documents, spread over a couple of dozen active case files along with the related source document files, among several users accessing them simultaneously and all performing different tasks with them.
How will you and your staff manage all these PDFs and other document files? Hopefully not with disk file folders, because if so, the integrity of the folders is entirely dependent on each user correctly remembering and performing manual procedures. It’s been done and being done; however, when you have just a few staff, it can get tricky and become highly error prone, looking neither pretty nor professional. For example:
Next, we’ll see how these issues are addressed by MasterFile’s Evidence Cruncher and Acrobat Professional, and by comparing MasterFile itself to CaseMap.
The Evidence Cruncher is tightly integrated with MasterFile’s PDF and document repository — both of which were designed specifically for the PDF tasks of legal or investigative professionals. In particular the Evidence Cruncher lets you:
The Evidence Cruncher is a powerful tool designed to efficiently handle high volume OCR and PDF conversion — up to several thousand pages per day on dedicated computers. Think of the Evidence Cruncher like a photocopier — you need one in the office, but not for every user, nor is it used all the time. Similarly, only one Evidence Cruncher per 5-10 users is typically needed.
In contrast, Acrobat Professional is a stand alone product which does not include a document or PDF repository. Therefore, although the PDF document format is an ideal format for legal use and litigation, Acrobat itself was not designed for the specific tasks related to evidentiary documents that lawyers and litigators require.
Without a litigation support document/PDF repository, Acrobat Professional’s ability to cope with the above three issues is missing and the process of managing your PDF files takes on all the complexities, error prone and multi-step, manual, procedures set out in the first section of this post.
Since it is not possible to cover every advantage or disadvantage that flows from MasterFile or CaseMap respectively, we give just a flavour here of the differences between MasterFile’s integrated solution where all the parts support each other and work as a “team” versus file folders and separate software to deal with facts, OCR, PDF, full text search, evidence management, etc.
|MasterFile||CaseMap file folders|
|MasterFile is a unique integration of OCR/PDF technology, Advanced Case Analysis and Fact Management, PDF and Evidence Management (or Litigation Support as it is commonly known) and work product management (or Document Management), in a state of the art package.
It stores PDF and other documents in its unique repository. The repository manages all your documents — PDF or not, in or out of the office — and gives you far more benefits over storing documents in directories, than can be described here. Some of these include:
|CaseMap stores all documents or e-mails converted to PDF with its DocPreviewer tool in file folders whose integrity is entirely dependant on every user correctly performing manual procedures — which as we pointed out earlier, has its own set of problems. But CaseMap also creates some additional issues, some of which we’ve listed here:
The nub of the matter is directories, besides many functional limitations and necessary manual processes that can compromise integrity, result in many discrete document collections or “repositories” — i.e. subdirectories or folders of documents for each case, cobbled together into a “system” by multiple software products. Some of of these myriad collections include
Since a MasterFile Evidence Cruncher is not needed for every user, we compare price based on one Evidence Cruncher per 5 users or one CaseSoft Bates Stamper per 5 users and Acrobat for each.
|MasterFile — advanced case analysis, PDF/evidence repository, production and document management
with the evidence Cruncher
|CaseMap’s — just case analysis
with the CaseMap Bates Stamper and Acrobat Professional
*In the 2nd and subsequent years, only support and maintenance is required at $590, $1,770 and $3,245 annually for 1, 5 and 10 users respectively.
**Note that CaseMap’s subscription model means its cost is $720, $3,600 and $7,200 annually for 1, 5 and 10 users respectively. To add a repository to CaseMap, you need to add Concordance from Lexis at greater than double the cost of the above — see below.
MasterFile includes built-in PDF capabilities so tasks such as creating PDF files from any application or performing PDF text extraction (not OCR), are available to every user. Five copies of Acrobat Standard adds that capability for the five CaseMap / Acrobat Professional users in our comparison.
But even with the cost difference, this example pricing comparison does not reflect the true value of MasterFile. Only by adding
to CaseSoft + Acrobat Professional would you have a more complete solution, and that would run approximately $1,450 more or a solo user and over $7,500 more for 5 or 10 users in a smaller practice.
all of which have an impact on your firm and increase you manual work.
MasterFile makes a collaborative case analysis and evidence management platform for lawyers and litigators. Everything that matters is right at your fingertips in an intelligent system built for simple document management or complex litigation that transforms your practice.