By Ted Kukurowski, DocsCorp Director of Sales – Mid-Atlantic and Southeast US.
Law firms require fast and reliable access to documents to be both productive and diligent in the advice they give. But thousands of non-searchable files end up in legal practice management systems without anyone ever realizing. If nothing’s ever done to make 100% of stored files searchable, lawyers:
Waste precious time – image-based PDFs, JPEGs, TIFFs, and PNGs, go dark because they don’t have a text layer, so the only content you can use to search for them is the file name, or occasionally, the file metadata. If you don’t know this information off the top of your head, locating that one document could become hugely time-consuming. Or, in some cases, you could spend hours recreating the original file.
Risk missing something vital – lawyers need to be able to search a document’s pages for names, phrases, or other general information that needs to be redacted. Not protecting this sensitive information could mean embarrassing data leaks, breaching Court Filing requirements around privacy and other regulatory requirements. Non-searchable files also impact the accuracy of document searches in the conflict checking process.
Become less productive – when non-searchable files and the information they contain go missing, you lose information that can help you do your job better and more efficiently. When, for example, you are trying to rewrite a clause, but you can’t find the perfect model clause because it is literally hidden in image-based files (image PDFs, scanned files, JPGs) you waste time searching for it pointlessly and then again trying to rewrite it without the information you need.
I ask lawyers and firms all the time; ‘when you need to find all the documents that contain the name ‘Ted Kukorowski,’ do you only want to know about 40%, 60%, or 100% of those documents?’ The answer is always 100%.
Ask yourself; is it OK if your search results do not contain the agreements, subpoenas, case law, depositions, court filings, and medical records that you need because they were scanned or produced by someone who didn’t know how to make them searchable? Is it defensible to say, “I didn’t know they even existed”?
Non-searchable documents can have serious implications, reputational, and financial damage, as well as conflicts of interest and regulatory consequences. I’d encourage every lawyer or in-house legal technologist to learn more about how solutions like Optical Character Recognition (OCR) processing find image-based documents and automatically convert them to searchable PDFs.
So, ask yourself, ‘what’s my number?’ When searching for content using text, 100% should always be the result you’re looking for.
About the author
Ted Kukorowski is a Sales Director for DocsCorp across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Ted has more than 40 years' experience in the computer software industry. When he's not on the road, Ted can be found on the Chesapeake Bay fishing.