Choosing the Right Document Management Software for your Firm
I have often thought that the bane of my paralegal career has been trying to find the best software solution for managing large document productions. At my firm, it is not uncommon to have a case with 300,000 or 400,000 pages of formally produced (Bates numbered) documents, and I have had some cases with a million or more pages. It is crucial that the documents are accessible to multiple people to be able to review them, do targeted searches, make annotations, and look at them chronologically. The key documents become deposition exhibits, which become trial exhibits, which propel the narrative of the case.
When I started my career as a paralegal in 2005, most firms in Salt Lake were transitioning away from paper productions. That is not to say that I didn’t have plenty of productions made by paper, nor is that to say that I haven’t spent my fair share of time manually Bates numbering documents by typing in numbers on labels, printing them out (eighty Bates numbers to a page), and sticking them on the pages in the lower right hand corner. After I had prepared a set, I’d run them through the copy machine, produce the copy, and then keep the pages with the stickers in my files.
There were some hassles with this. Firstly, a lot of space was wasted storing boxes and boxes of paper. Searching and finding documents was a hassle. And once I had a case where I spent weeks redacting production documents by hand (think box of black markers and a notepad to put under the documents so I didn’t color my desk).
A little side note: the terms “control number” and “Bates number” are generally used interchangeably. I’ve always preferred the term Bates, which was actually a brand name and was named after the inventor of the stamp, Edwin Bates. In the late 1800s, Edwin obtained several patents for the Bates stamp. Basically each time the stamp was pressed down onto a sheet of paper, a wheel would rotate incrementally through numbers. The original Bates stamp could print numbers ranging from 0000 to 9999. After so many “punches” you would have to press the stamp against an ink pad. For large productions, this was very...