The practice of Bates stamping has been around for over a century, slowly becoming an indispensable tool for lawyers, paralegals, court reporters, and other legal professionals. First developed by Edwin Bates over a century ago, some argue that in today's digital world the practice has less value. Whether you're in pre-litigation, juggling complaints or starting off in discovery, processing and tracking possible evidence can be foundational to your case. A good document tracking practice can help you achieve every aspect of your firm’s goals from greater efficiency to client retention. With so much on the line, it would be foolish to not consider the benefits of a Bates numbering solution.
Why you need Bates tools
Any lawyer who has handled more than two cases simultaneously, knows that even when you're organized, you can’t keep track of every document with your mind alone. An even more familiar situation can be when you're exchanging documents and you can’t remember which documents are where and what you have shared. The worst being a similar mistake happening when motions should be filed or during trial. Aside from damage to your case, mismanaging documents can have huge effects on maintaining client relationships and chances for repeat business. For these exact reasons, Bates number systems need to be included in part of your firm’s technology practice. Without them, you are at risk for a variety of common document management problems and will decrease your office’s efficiency.
What are the best Bates numbering tools/systems?
The original Bates stamping tool’s features, developed pre-1900s, were paper based, and used a mechanical stamp. Today’s tools are very different, and there’s a list of expectations you should have for whatever Bates stamping tool you choose. Your tool should be flexible to different document types like .PDF, .TIF/.TIFF, .JPG/.JPEG, and .PNG. It should make the numbering process super fast and guarantee accuracy well past the intake process. It should be straightforward for internal collaborators to process documents and opposing counsel to receive them with a simple export. It also should be easy for anyone in the firm to implement. It should have a prefix to identify the party associated with the document and should have leading zeros in the numbering so that the corner of a large document can be flipped through rapidly without changing the alignment of the numbers. Most importantly, it should have the ability to adapt to changing needs and continue providing new solutions to deal with firm-specific needs well into the future.
Many firms send documents to a third party or service bureau for Bates stamping. Whether that service bureau applies the stamps electronically, or uses a physical stamping tool, it is time consuming and expensive. Worse, any necessary changes cannot be carried out in-house, rather, the documents have to be sent out again for re-processing.
One of the most common in-house Bates numbering tools is Adobe Acrobat (Pro version), however anyone who has ever used Adobe knows just how slow it can be. Often it isn’t so much that the firm selected Adobe for Bates stamping, but that it is a tool you already have that has a Bates stamping capability. However, what if learning and implementing a purpose-built Bates stamping tool took less than the time it takes to use a tool like Adobe?
Start numbering in less than 5 minutes
Try using DocReviewPad, part of your LIT SUITE.
When you open up a Case File, you immediately are presented with an import option letting asking you to import documents, folders of documents, or to create folders for documents.
DocReviewPad supports a variety of document locations, in this video, you’ll see us import using OneDrive.
After selecting the desired documents and tapping “Open”, you are presented with an automatic Bates numbering tool, offering a variety of options from naming and numbering, to appearance and size of the stamp. Configure your Bates stamp using the Preview, and choose Apply.
That’s it. Really. In under 30 seconds, you have implemented and used a Bates numbering system for document intake and pre-trial management. And you’ve made collaboration and keeping track of exports more secure and fluid at the same time.
Used in conjunction with the other apps available in the LIT SUITE like TrialPad, Bates numbering becomes an easy way to increase efficiency in pre-trial efforts and track evidence through trial.
Benefits of Bates numbering
Whether you're at a large firm dealing with a high volume of cases and a need for collaboration, or at a small or solo firm where increasing efficiency is a necessity. Why not free up budgets and time, using a straightforward app that works for you? Aside from benefiting your firm, updating and refitting your firm’s technology solutions can do wonders for client relationships, and increase your ability to maintain the arbiter of truth. Remember there is no better time than the present and with 5 minutes or less, you can change the tides for your future and your firm.