What Happens in Electronic Format Stays in Electronic Format

What Happens in Electronic Format Stays in Electronic Format - think of it as the golden rule of content.  

In law firms, perhaps one of the worst (or best?) examples of waste and needless expense is paper-based pre-billing.  In this example, we create reams of printed paper for a review-and-comment cycle - and then we (gulp) archive the paper for a while.  As a paper-based process, this takes longer and is less accurate than using an electronic format like PDF for pre-billing.  And I would submit that PDF documents are the ideal way to handle the process. 

Here’s why:

1) pre-billing data comes from the billing system so its entirely electronic to begin with.   If you have information in electronic format, you never need to convert it to paper.

2) a collection of pre-bills can easily be combined or packaged by billing attorney, so you’re sure that all prebills are sent to the billing attorney and returned to the billing staff - in one nice neat bundle.  Consider adding a check-box on each page of the bundle which the billing attorney would tick to show they’ve reviewed that page.

3) a pre-bill collection in PDF format is searchable.  Billing staff and billing attorney now have the convenience of searching for invoice numbers, dates, and words.  Imagine the benefit of simply searching to answer the question... "what did we say on the other bill? " 

4) Typical  PDF annotation tools are ideal for reviewing any type of content, including pre-bills.  I encourage using the commenting tool because comments can quickly be summarized and reviewed by the billing staff when they receive the annotated pre-bill PDF files from the billing attorney.

5)  If you’re using Acrobat X, consider using the SENDNOW feature which lets you track the progress of pre-bill review.

6) With PDF annotation tools for iPad, its now possible to do pre-bill review-and-comment from an iPad (while on the train / plane / cab / subway).

7) If you’re keen to archive pre-billing for a period of time, its obviously easier to store a record of changes in PDF format than paper.

This is just one example of “keeping it electronic” – and there are many more!