Law offices have been moving toward digital documents for years now. But the COVID-19 pandemic might have struck the final death knell for paper-bound legal work.

At a time when even jury trials are being held over Zoom, lawyers need fast, nimble ways to manage their digital documents. These tools must be intuitive and fail-safe, for legal professionals who can’t invest the time and energy into learning complicated new apps.

Filevine has just the answer.

Docs+ makes digital documents easier to manage than ever before.

Docs+ is a suite of features in Filevine that can help any legal professional go fully mobile, remote, and paperless. It enables complex document editing but is also designed to be simple enough for new users. For tech-savvy lawyers, Docs+ can equip sophisticated virtual law offices. For traditional (and even techno-phobic) lawyers, it can smooth the transition to digital remote work.

Docs+ PDF: Managing a Lawyer’s Most Important File Format

PDFs have become the industry standard for digital legal documents. In many situations, it’s the only kind of document admissible in court, as a read-only format that leaves an electronic trail with every alteration.

Since PDFs are compatible with all platforms, you don’t have to worry about what kind of computer your client or colleague is using. And you don’t have to worry about the program they use to open it will change the formatting. PDFs keep their formatting and keep their colors. That ensures that high-value documents remain readable.

For many lawyers, ‘document’ is synonymous with ‘PDF.’ Any other format is just a note or a draft.

Any system for digital legal documents has to help lawyers manage their PDFs. Filevine created Docs+ PDF to make you master of your most important documents.

Putting Pen to Paper

Why do lawyers so often print out their documents for review? Because they feel freedom with paper they haven’t found with their inert, digital PDFs. They mark it up, underline what’s important, and plan out their next edits.

But all of this adds in extra steps of printing, scanning, and reuploading your notes. When you’re on the go or working remotely, that might not be an option. Also, printing and scanning introduce a higher risk of human error. Documents might not be uploaded promptly or correctly, making it harder and more frustrating to collaborate with your team.

You need simple, intuitive tools that let you do the same things with digital documents that you do with physical ones.

Here are 13 ways you can edit your PDFs with Docs+ PDF:

  1. Highlight passages.
  2. Add text.
  3. Add your signature.
  4. Mark it up. Use a freestyle drawing tool to scribble, underline, or even doodle in the margins.
  5. Redact sensitive information. When lawyers don’t redact documents properly, it can make headlines. Docs+ PDF enables you to fully, irreversibly redact information.
  6. Add comments. Easily review those comments by checking the Notes section.
  7. Attach files.
  8. Insert images.
  9. Rubber stamp the copy (“Draft” or “Confidential,” for example).
  10. Use the Callout Tool — insert text with an arrow pointing to the relevant area.
  11. Insert different shapes (circle one area or put a border around one section).
  12. Erase or undo mistakes.
  13. Crop the document.

You can’t make an origami crane or give yourself a papercut, but anything else you do with a paper copy, you can do with a digital one with Docs+ PDF. Get yourself a stylus pen and an iPad, and you might forget it’s not a piece of paper there in front of you.

Pushing Beyond Paper-Pushing

But Docs+ does more than simply enable the same things you can do with paper. It opens doors to greater freedom and efficiency.

You can instantly collaborate with your team or share your documents with others through secure links. You can save your edits to overwrite the original file or click ‘save as’ to save as an additional copy. And you can optimize your PDF to decrease the file size or merge files, without losing the quality of the document.

Most importantly, Docs+ is part of Filevine, the same case management software that helps you keep your deadlines, assign tasks, and communicate with staff. There’s no need to download your documents and open them in a separate system. No need to learn how to install and navigate a new app. No risk that you’ll accidentally fail to upload the latest version of your documents. Simply make your edits and move on.

Docs+ OCR: Finding the Needle in the Haystack

Another way that digital documents are far superior to physical paper is their searchability. With a few keystrokes, you can find every mention of a specific word or hone in on the one relevant document in a massive file. But only if those documents are fully searchable.

OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. It’s the advanced technology that allows computers to accurately decipher the numbers and letters on a page, even when they’re in different fonts or written by hand.

With Docs+ OCR, every document you upload will be scanned for text and indexed. It indexes new files in the background, while you carry on with your work. You can then search within Filevine for any word or phrase, including one within a scanned piece of mail you received or a photo of a driver’s license a client sent.

Reviewing files doesn’t have to be a headache. Docs+ OCR simplifies discovery and review, by allowing you to search through huge amounts of documents for any specific word or phrase. A preview of each document lets you see what it is before you decide whether to open it. For an even more targeted search, you can use Boolean terms like ‘and,’ ‘not,’ and ‘or.’

Search medical records, insurance information, contracts, and documents you received in the mail. Docs+ OCR is like a giant magnet, pulling out the needle from the haystack for you.

Redefining the Standard

In the Georgetown Law 2020 Report on the State of the Legal Market, the authors talk about a high-jumping technique known as the ‘Fosbury Flop.’ Before the invention of the Flop, athletes jumped over the bar with a straddle move, or by scissoring their legs. But a civil engineering student named Dick Fosbury brought a new technique to the 1968 Olympics, jumping ‘back-first’ and arching his back. The method looked bizarre to onlookers, but it allowed Fosbury to win the gold. Within 8 years, every medal winner of the event used the Fosbury Flop.

The 2020 Report relates Fosbury’s revolution with new tools now available to lawyers. The lawyers who adopt these tools now can offer ever-greater service and outcompete others. Eventually, anyone who wants to perform at the top levels will take these tools as a given.

New crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, mass unemployment, and market uncertainty are ‘raising the bar’ on adequate legal service. But tools like Docs+ are a kind of ‘Fosbury Flop.’ They help law firms clear their obstacles and reach ever-higher performance goals.

Talk to your Filevine rep to learn more about how Docs+ can make your work easier and more effective.