Casedo Case Study: Family and Criminal Law

Milad Shojaei, Family & Criminal Law Barrister, explains how Casedo’s simple interface but powerful features makes a huge difference to the way he works.
You can open and download a PDF copy of the Case Study HERE.

CASE STUDY

MILAD SHOJAEI – FAMILY & CRIMINAL LAW BARRISTER

LIFE WITHOUT CASEDO

‌I began using Casedo as a law student, so it has always been integral to my legal work.

LIFE WITH CASEDO

As a barrister managing a multi-disciplinary practice, Casedo has been an indispensable tool in my daily work. I was lucky to know Casedo and the legal tech world before becoming a barrister, so it just made sense to use the software in my practice. 

What makes Casedo particularly appealing is its user-friendly interface, supported by an attentive team that ensures a smooth onboarding process for practitioners at any level of familiarity with the platform. 

Casedo has proven to be an invaluable asset in my family and criminal law practice. The software allows me to efficiently manage case files by consolidating PDFs, email correspondence, and image files into one accessible platform. With the ability to swiftly navigate and bookmark crucial information, Casedo enhances my case preparation, ensuring I can access key details at lightning speed both inside and outside the courtroom.  

As a direct access practitioner, the platform’s functionality in numbering and organising bundles for court proceedings has been particularly beneficial, streamlining the preparation process for hearings, appeals, and various legal engagements. With Casedo, I can effortlessly transition from receiving an email with numerous attachments to having a well-organised Casedo bundle, making sense of the documents within minutes and saving valuable time in my workflow. 

MILAD SHOJAEI – FAMILY & CRIMINAL LAW BARRISTER

LIFE WITHOUT CASEDO

‌I began using Casedo as a law student, so it has always been integral to my legal work.

LIFE WITH CASEDO

As a barrister managing a multi-disciplinary practice, Casedo has been an indispensable tool in my daily work. I was lucky to know Casedo and the legal tech world before becoming a barrister, so it just made sense to use the software in my practice. 

What makes Casedo particularly appealing is its user-friendly interface, supported by an attentive team that ensures a smooth onboarding process for practitioners at any level of familiarity with the platform. 

Casedo has proven to be an invaluable asset in my family and criminal law practice. The software allows me to efficiently manage case files by consolidating PDFs, email correspondence, and image files into one accessible platform. With the ability to swiftly navigate and bookmark crucial information, Casedo enhances my case preparation, ensuring I can access key details at lightning speed both inside and outside the courtroom.  

As a direct access practitioner, the platform’s functionality in numbering and organising bundles for court proceedings has been particularly beneficial, streamlining the preparation process for hearings, appeals, and various legal engagements. With Casedo, I can effortlessly transition from receiving an email with numerous attachments to having a well-organised Casedo bundle, making sense of the documents within minutes and saving valuable time in my workflow. 

Milad Shojaei is a barrister at 33 Bedford Row Chambers, specialising in Family and Criminal Law and is direct access approved. His Family Law practice encompasses Divorce, Children, and Financial Remedies, with a recognised expertise in cases involving domestic violence. In Criminal Law, he covers all areas with a focus on motoring and environmental protection matters.

WORK SMARTER.

LAST UPDATED 2024.01.31


Man doing handstand splits

Casedo v1.10 Release Announcement

Casedo v1.10 doubles the number of file types that can be directly imported into the app and adds the Split Document by Bookmarks feature which allows bundles and meeting packs prepared as single PDFs to be broken down to their constituent parts with a single click.

Alongside various tweaks and UI improvements the extra file types and new main feature improve further the workflow benefits of using Casedo. For further details and to download the current version go to the downloads page. If you’re upgrading from an existing version of Casedo, you can follow the instructions and download the new version by going to how to upgrade to the latest Casedo.

Directly below is a recording of a briefing hosted by Ross Birkbeck which covers the core features of the new build. After that there is a breakdown of the features.

Split Document by Bookmarks

Many of our users are delivered on occasion pre-prepared ebundles and meeting packs that they need to break up for a variety of reasons. It could be because they need to add late submissions or because they need to reorganise papers such that they can do analysis and mark-up better. With a single click this feature completes in several minutes what might take several hours manually.

Graphic of the Casedo UI showing the Split Documents by Bookmark feature

When selected Casedo will create a new folder with the same name as the document, and then look for existing bookmarks.

  1. The first top tier bookmark on any page will become a new document (other top tier bookmarks on that page will remain the same)
  2. Second tier bookmarks will be promoted to top tier, third tier bookmarks to second tier and so on.

Before and after comparison of the Split Document by Bookmarks feature

If you want to see how this is feature works, take a look at one of the two videos below. The one on the right is an extended version that shows how to take the resulting collection of documents and reorganise them into a better whole, adding pagination and a table of contents.

Added file type import

To date Casedo is able to directly import PDFs (.pdf), Word documents (.doc & .docx), emails (.msg & .eml) and other Casedo casefiles (.case) directly into the desk space. Other file formats, including images needed to be saved as PDFs before they could be imported into Word.

This is no longer the case, Casedo v1.10 now allows the direct import of images (.png & .jpg/.jpeg) and text files (.txt & .rtf).

graphic illustrating file types that can be imported into casedo

With images, Casedo renders them onto a PDF A4 page and adds the file name as imported. With the txt files, Casedo takes the information given and renders it as a searchable PDF document. It should be noted that there is a known issue with the import of RTF files, more detail on this can be found in the Release Notes.

Other changes to Casedo

As noted in the Release Notes, there are other changes to the Casedo application in the new version.

  1. The Print option has been removed, leaving the Export Case to PDF feature. User feedback noted that the former was little used whilst the latter achieved both requirements. We felt having a single option added clarity to the application.
  2. The Undo Last Move feature keyboard shortcut has been changed from CTRL+Z (CMD+Z on Mac) to CTRL+SHIFT+Z (CMD+SHIFT+Z on Mac), this was done, again in response to user feedback, to lessen any confusion between Casedo’s Undo Last Move functionality and a generic Undo feature.
  3. Added View menu. We have added a new main menu, View, to give users another way to access the zoom and search functionalities and to make clear the keyboard shortcuts for those items.


Woman sitting at a desk enhancing productivity by using three computer screens.

Enhancing productivity for Barristers in the context of the wider productivity slowdown

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the UK’s economic productivity has experienced a noticeable slump. This is also true of much of the world. There is a connection between these macro challenges and the everyday, micro challenges that we face.

 

I take a quick look at the parallel challenges in personal productivity amidst the distractions of the digital age. This is particularly the case in analysis and intellectual work. For Barristers this challenge is acute and, being self-employed for the most part, they are in the enviable position of being able to do something about enhancing productivity for themselves.

 

UK’s Economic Productivity Landscape

Recent articles (such as one in the Financial Times) reveal a continuing and concerning trend in the UK’s economic productivity. Since the 2008 financial crisis, there has been a notable lag, especially when compared to other G7 countries. Key factors contributing to this stagnation include complacency in business practices, a lack of investment in training and development, and inefficient management, in fact, the UK ranks bottom of the G7 in these areas. There are a number of reasons for these issues. I think, however, that the small choices and challenges that individuals make on a daily basis add up to a significant drag on how much we can achieve, or, in the parlance of ONS and OECD reports, our GDP per hour.

 

The Challenge of Personal Productivity

Cal Newport’s “Deep Work” offers valuable insights into the personal productivity challenges faced by professionals today. Newport highlights the detrimental effects of multitasking and the constant bombardment of digital distractions. For barristers, whose work demands high levels of concentration and meticulous analysis, the ability to engage in focused, uninterrupted work sessions is essential. However, the modern digital landscape often impedes this deep work, leading to reduced efficiency and effectiveness.

 

Drawing Parallels

Though labour market and productivity articles are always illustrated with workers in hard hats rolling steel, manufacturing makes up only around 10% of the UK economy. A large percentage of those employees will sit at screens most of the day. As such the parallels between the UK’s macroeconomic productivity issues and the micro-level challenges faced by, for example, barristers, are quite strong, I think. The distractions from digital tools, such as emails, social media, and instant messaging, can mirror the broader issues of complacency and inefficiency in economic productivity. For those sat at desks and beholden to screens (I put my hand up here too), this often translates into a fragmented workday, where attention is constantly diverted, leading to a decrease in the quality and quantity of work output.

 

Practical Strategies for Barristers

To combat these challenges, barristers can adopt various deep work strategies. Setting aside dedicated hours for focused work, free from digital distractions, can significantly enhance productivity. Strategies like the monastic approach, where all sources of distraction are eliminated. Also the rhythmic approach, which involves establishing regular, scheduled periods for deep work, can be particularly effective. Turning off the internet and turning to distraction-free tools that don’t constantly ping is a way of forcing focus. Casedo, for example, has been explicitly designed with this in mind, and using tools like this with a specific, methodical approach in mind, will increase deep work further.

 

Overcoming Challenges to Enhancing Productivity

Exploring avenues for training, development, and efficient management of resources can help decrease distraction and increase productivity. For instance, investing in legal technology and training can help realise better processes, allowing barristers to focus more on their core legal work rather than administrative tasks. It’s not just about grabbing the latest court bundle software or the like, but about finding the right tools that are flexible enough to work with your workflow. If it’s too prescriptive, you won’t use it.

 

Conclusion

It is imperative for barristers (and everyone) to address both economic and personal productivity challenges. This is needed to remain competitive and effective in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. Embracing principles of deep work and integrating them into daily practices can lead to significant improvements in focus, efficiency, and overall professional satisfaction. As we move forward, refining these strategies will be key to thriving in the demanding world of legal practice.


Durham University Mooting Society Digital Bundling Webinar

You can find more information about Casedo and the Durham University Mooting Society moots HERE.


Group of young people standing in a circle many a collective star with their fingers

Introducing a Unified Solution for Legal Document Management

You need the right tools to minimise the document admin you’re not aware you’re doing. Then you can get on with your actual work, your deep work, (not the preparation). Part Four

 

Throughout this series, we've discussed the nature of legal work, analysed the pros and cons of traditional paper bundling, and brought attention to the inadequacies of current legal document workflow management. Now, it’s time to shed light on a solution that seeks to remedy the complexities and inefficiencies inherent in legal documentation processes.

At the heart of the problem is the fact that legal workflow management tools are designed with a skewed focus, often prioritizing document production over usage. This results in a tool that is ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst, failing to simplify the processes it is supposed to support. Lawyers need a tool that enables them to manage, read, annotate, and engage with documents, rather than simply produce them.

Experts like Harvard Business Review and Forbes have stressed the importance of developing digital workflows that effectively streamline processes and encourage productivity. In the legal realm, this means developing a tool that isn't just about creating documents, but about enhancing a lawyer's interaction with them.

Moreover, current practices also involve bundling as a separate process – an unnecessary and time-consuming step that should be integrated into the workflow. After all, it's not just about producing the bundle; it's about working with it from the moment the first document enters the workflow to the moment the bundle is printed out.

The legal world has long cried out for a solution that encapsulates the entire document lifecycle, from creation to printing, with everything in between. A tool that streamlines and simplifies, without compromising on functionality or accessibility.

The solution to these issues is not far-fetched. Imagine a world where legal professionals can easily navigate and annotate their documents, manage their workflows more effectively, and have a seamless bundling process all within a single tool. It’s no longer a vision for the future, but a present reality.

Several thought leaders like Above the Law have recognized the need for legal technology that embraces this holistic approach, arguing that the future of legal work lies in digital tools that unify these processes.

 

Unveiling the Solution: Casedo

Enter Casedo. Casedo is a tool that is designed with the lawyer's workflow in mind. It is built to address the unique challenges of document management in the legal world, allowing users to read, annotate, and manage their documents all in one place.

Casedo does away with the concept of bundling as a separate process, integrating it as a part of the overall workflow. As such, you can work with your documents and bundles from the moment you receive the first document until the time comes to print the final product. This represents a revolutionary shift in the way we think about and interact with legal documents, eliminating unnecessary steps and making legal work more efficient and manageable.

Moreover, Casedo is designed specifically for reading and annotating documents. It is not just a tool for producing documents, but a tool for truly interacting with them, offering functionalities that empower lawyers to work with their documents in a more intuitive and effective manner.

In essence, Casedo is a unified solution that allows legal professionals to focus on what truly matters: delivering top-notch legal services. By simplifying the process of managing, reading, and annotating documents, and seamlessly integrating bundling into the workflow, Casedo facilitates the transition to a more efficient and effective legal practice.

 

Conclusion

It's clear that a shift in the way we manage legal documents is needed. The legal profession requires a tool that empowers them to effectively use and manage their documents, rather than just create them. Moreover, the process of bundling should be seamlessly integrated into the workflow, rather than treated as a separate task.

That solution is Casedo. Designed specifically for reading and annotating documents, Casedo does away with bundling as a separate process, wrapping all these necessities within a single tool. It's a streamlined solution from the moment the first document enters the workflow to when the bundle is printed out.


Casedo v1.9 Release Announcement

Casedo v1.9 Release Announcement

UPDATE 2023.11.01 - We have taken the decision to take this version out of Beta as there remains a single issue affecting a low percentage of Windows users. The issue is not catastrophic and involves exporting to PDF. We believe the issue has been fixed, see the Release Notes for details.

 

UPDATE 2023.03.17 - Though many of our current users have switched to Casedo v1.9 without issue, we have found several low risk bugs in the software which we think need to be fixed before this version becomes the standard release. We've therefore taken the difficult decision to put this version back into beta. If you'd like to try Casedo v1.9.0 you can download the Mac version here or download the Windows version here.

 

Following on from the additional colour-tagging options in the last upgrade, Casedo is delighted to announce the release of the latest software upgrade. Casedo version 1.9 offers our customers four distinct new features which each add a new element to the already feature-rich toolset.

 

Export individual folders and documents

Casedo has been the go-to bundling tool for many lawyers for several years, and whilst the options for exporting an entire case are strong, including complex pagination features and feature-rich Table of Contents, until now there has been some frustration at the inability to export individual files and folders without mucking about with the Index first. You no longer need to - now your can simply right click on a document or folder (in the Index or the Desk Space) and export it as you would a bundle. For more information read this article.

 

Casedo Casefile lock to prevent opening of a Casefile by more than one user at a time, when saved on shared storage

Most of us have more that one computer, perhaps using a desktop at work and a laptop the rest of the time. We understand this, we're happy for licence holders to have Casedo installed on more than one computer (see the EULA for details). The convenient way to work with this set up is to save your Casedo casefiles in shared folders using services such as OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, or on bespoke in-company systems.

This works well if you're the only one working on a casefile. However, until now it has been trickier with multiple users as there has been no way to know if the Casedo casefile is in use by a team member or assistant. This can lead Casedo to making multiple cloned copies of the same casefile.

To overcome this we have created a lock system that prevents a Casedo casefile being opened by more than one user concurrently, and which tells the locked-out user who is currently using the casefile. Implementation of this has necessitated a slightly different experience when Casedo is opened for the first time after installation, users now need to add contact details. To know how this new feature works in more detail read this article, and to find out how 'opening Casedo for the first time' has changed, read this.

 

Import failure warning

Sometimes documents won't import into Casedo as expected. Sometimes Casedo doesn't recognise the file. Whilst there are workarounds for PDFs and Word Documents, it would be great to know when this occurs, especially if you are importing multiple documents at a time. Casedo v1.9 includes a failed-to-import notification so that you know when this has happened and can take steps to fix it. For more information, take a look at this article.

 

Undo for moving documents in the Index and Desk Space

Whilst to date annotations can be added and removed in Casedo, mistaken movement in the Index and Desk Space on the left hand side of the Casedo workspace could not. We've now added CTRL+Z (Windows) / CMD+Z (Mac) to undo up to five movement actions in both the Index and Desk Space. This is a huge help when you accidently move a folder full of documents to the wrong place! For more information, read this.

 

Casedo v1.9

We feel that the above four features add substantially to Casedo's overall offer - helping people manage multiple documents in a single space, enabling them to organise, annotate, think, advise and pick up where they left off simply and easily. In addition to these obvious changes, we have improved some back end processes. This includes the basic importing feature, which is continually improving, thanks to diligent users sharing their failed document imports with us to fix.

For further details, take a look at the Release Notes.


Woman in front of a laptop frustrated by her workflow management

Current legal document workflow management isn’t working

You need the right tools to minimise the document admin you’re not aware you’re doing. Then you can get on with your actual work, your deep work, (not the preparation). Part Three

 

In this series I’ve been trying to break down legal document workflows. I want to show how legal professionals could minimise their document admin time by choosing the right tools. By doing so, they can improve their workflow management, cut occupational stress and improve productivity.

In the first article in the series, I attempted to get to the heart of the actual work that legal professionals do, rather than the top line answer of “I’m a lawyer”, because only in knowing that could you successfully choose the tools you need.

In the second part of the series it may have looked as if I’d headed off at a tangent by concentrating on paper bundles. However, my premise was that we have a tendency to assume legacy ways of working are no longer fit for purpose. That we have nothing to learn from them. I wanted to show that the paper bundle has for a long time (centuries?) been an excellent tool for a variety of reasons. It continues to be particularly good for focused work, even with the admitted downsides of physical production, replication and archive. My argument being that ‘digital’ bundles, such as they are, tend to have solved the downsides of paper bundles without managing to adequately bring on board the upsides of paper bundles in terms of efficiency and productivity.   At the end of the last article, I touched on how you might now be interacting with your papers. In this third part of the series I elaborate on this theme.

 

Why your current document workflow isn’t working

We can’t improve our productivity if we’re not aware that the way we work is inefficient. The extra steps you take to get your work done are not just administrative but are a workflow management and time management issue. Let’s take the paper bundle as the base case for document working, and step to digital from there.

Paper bundles: the good, the bad and the ugly

In the last part of this series, we touched on the good side of working with paper bundles

  • the ability to focus, to work through documents by utilising non-linear reading (jumping tab to tab)
  • to pick up where you left off
  • to have a ready archive at the end of the process.

The downsides are obvious and common to many legacy physical tools and workflows, be they collaboration tools (of which paper bundles are one), or not. Paper bundles are

  • time consuming to create
  • time consuming to append
  • extremely time consuming to replicate
  • high risk in terms of loss / damage

The above negative aspects of bundles above have ‘digitise my workflow’ written all over them. And these processes have, by and large, beet successfully digitised.

 

What’s wrong with current legal document workflow management

 

1. Case & document workflow management systems are great for managing documents not using them

Document management is hugely important to any business, particularly in law where client data is the bread and butter of the business. But in terms of understanding and digesting the information at hand, ‘document management’ is unhelpful. Legal professionals shouldn’t be ‘managing’ documents, that is for support staff etc. to deal with. Legal professionals need to be using documents as part of their work.   The current issue is that ‘document management’, by which I mean identification, storage, risk management etc, has dominated over the ability to use documents. For the sake of identification and good record management, documents are stored securely and individually. The focus is to not lose documents, in other words to manage documents, and to be able to identify them easily so they can be found and retrieved quickly and then used. This is great for a database of records (whatever those records are). However, it is very poor workflow when it comes to using those documents. You get a better sense of how inefficient this is for using the documents for work by looking at the hard copy analogy. If we imagine that in a paper-bundle, instead of putting all the relevant documents into a single paper bundle, you bundled each document individually. Not only that, but also bound them, titled them and tagged them individually. Follow that you kept them on a shelf so that any time you wanted to look at the document you had to get up from your desk to go and fetch it. If you needed to digest 58 documents relating to a case, you’d have to get 58 different documents off the shelf (and put them back at the end of the day). This cumbersome workflow doesn’t even look at the question of how you would signpost between documents?

 

2. PDF Readers and Editors are great for producing documents, not reading them

For PDFs we look to PDF Readers and Editors. If you are faced with emails, PDFs and Word documents then you need to Alt + Tab (switch) back and forth between them, and even if you had all your documents in PDF format, how are you going to open those 58 documents (in the example above)? In 58 tabs across the top of your screen? How are you going to link between them, let alone read them. Non-linear reading becomes an exercise in will power with workflow like this! What if you are technically proficient enough to create a single bookmarked PDF of all the documents you need? That’s great, a bit like producing a professionally bound hard copy document. But what happens if, as is bound to happen, you need to add a document at the last minute, recreating that magnificent monolithic document is a long and tedious process.   None of this is an issue with a paper bundle, except maybe the cumbersome addition of new documents.

 

3. Creating a bundle is a separate process

And then given how you work with documents, how do you create an electronic (or even paper) bundle if you need to go to arbitration or to court? You need to create a ‘bundle’ from scratch. Back in the paper days you would already have a bundle to hand, you had begun to make it from day one of the case. It built up over time, and then, when it needed to be shared with the other side or the court, you had to make a clean copy, but at the very least you had a copy to clone. But now, none of this. Not only does one spend a huge amount of time opening up individual files, and having to search across them individually. Making links between them is tiresome, and making a bundle another chore in itself. It’s as if all the benefits of the paper bundle have been taken away just to save time and money in the creation of a paper bundle. One set of inefficiencies have been replaced with another.

 

The Solution

This is the current situation, and many are yet to notice that this is even a problem. It so ingrained is it into our workflows and workflow management systems. However, it doesn’t need to be, as I will show in the final part of this series.


Man working with paper bundles

Is working with paper bundles all bad?

You need the right tools to minimise the document admin you’re not aware you’re doing. Then you can get on with your actual work, your deep work, (not the preparation). Part Two

 

In the first part of this series I looked at making sure you knew the kind of work you did, so that you could make sure that you chose the proper tools for the job, rather than just using what other’s did, just defaulting to something, as people do, for example, with using email as their primary workflow whether it be for their legal deep work or not.

Throughout this article I’m going to use the term bundle (in capitals) to refer to the legal stack of papers that lawyers work with on a particular matter or case. Traditionally this would have been a paper bundle. Bundle is a UK term, in North America the term used is ‘Brief’. And of course you can exchange Lawyer for the word Attorney.

In the first article I alluded to the idea that, though we’ve been trying to replace them seemingly forever, paper bundles are not so bad after all. This is what I want to look in this piece.

 

Is working with paper bundles all bad?

Traditionally you’d do your brain work by printing all the relevant documents and putting them in a paper bundle. Then you'd tab it up with a table of contents to create an effective way to navigate the documents. On creating the bundle you then added documents to the bundle as they arrived, working through the bundle making annotations and comments as necessary. During periods when the case wasn’t moving forward you’d file it somewhere, but crucially, because of the way you put the bundle together, you could easily pick up where you left off, whenever you needed to. You could add documents at will as you went along (though unbinding some of these files could be tedious). Once the case was closed or otherwise dealt with, you had a ready-made archive which could be stored appropriately.

It seems, in some ways, to be a rather quaint way of working, nostalgic, almost, and many would decry its inefficiencies, but I would ask two questions:

 

1. How did you actually interact with the documents when they were in paper form?

There are many ways you’d have worked through the bundle, depending on how you chose to work. However, I can guarantee (almost) that you didn’t start at page one and work through the bundle in a linear fashion (this would have been particularly true once you were up and running with the bundle, once you were adding pages after the initial ‘building’). No, you made links and connections between different parts of the bundle. Letters and other documents were added at different periods during the course of the case. In other words, you read the bundle in a non-linear way. You followed the trail of the sense of the matter, not the page numbers.

 

2. How do you interact with your papers now?

If you are still stubbornly printing your papers to make a paper bundle as above, then good for you. However, this is a poor choice in terms of time and cost (and I guess you are getting it in the neck on costs, time and the sheer urgh of whoever is putting the bundle together for you, if someone is).

If, as is more likely, you’ve got a digital filing or case management system, your way of interacting with the documents couldn’t be further from the workflow you did with paper, not that many years ago. And this is where the problem lies, and the inefficiencies creep in.

Digital things are meant to be improvements on analogue. We know this to be the idea, but we also know that the reality can be very different. And different in this case, it very much is.

Paper bundles are cumbersome, heavy, massively time-consuming to produce, and not-backed up (not to mention environmentally suspect). Digital solves all of these issues.

However, as previously stated, paper bundles are flexible, easy to understand, excellent for focus, marking up and ultimately archiving. Apart from perhaps the latter, digital to date has not managed to match any of these things. Digital solutions have solved the admin problems of paper bundles, but by doing so have also removed all the benefits that bundles have.

So what is it about these supposedly great digital workflows that is causing such trouble? In the third part of this article, I take a look.

 

 

 


man throwing pdf types into the air

PDF types - How many are there?

Eight apparently, or is it three? PDFs are ubiquitous these days, and yet, like the internet, they haven't been around for long. The PDF first appeared in 1993 and for most people it is now the de facto way to share digital documents. For those of us using PDFs, or building products that use them, it's worth knowing that the humble PDF is not humble at all, there are many PDF types, all to given standards.

 

This 'range' falls roughly into different ways of categorising PDF types themselves: Technical and Everyday. Technically, PDFs have ISO standards and the like, standards for different business sectors and archiving, for engineering and for printing. There are point releases (have you heard of PDF 2.0?) and subsets (surely you know PDF/VT?), none of which, like any good ISO, impinge on our daily life, but are the hidden backbone to it.

Of more interest to most of us are what PDFs there are in everyday parlance, this is much simpler to grasp. Depending on the way the file originated, there are three main types of PDF documents. How the PDF was originally created defines whether the content of the PDF (text, images, tables) can be accessed or whether it is “locked” in an image of the page.

 

Everyday PDF Types:

  • Real PDFs
  • Scanned PDFs
  • Searchable PDFs

 

1. Real PDFs:

Real PDFs, also known as digitally created PDFs are ideal for most applications. This is usually the ideal PDF that allows the users to mark up, annotate, search, and copy/paste. Without having to do an extra step. You can easily create them in-app or via the "print" function. You can search these types of PDFs by default, and content such as text and images copied /pasted into other file formats.

Both the meta-information and the characters in the text hold an electronic character designation. With PDF Editors and other document readers you can search through these PDFs. You can also edit, select, or delete any of the content it holds. But not if the document itself has password protection.

 

2. Scanned PDFs:

Scanned PDFs are just an image of the actual text, so the content is "locked" in a snapshot-like image. This is the same as converting a camera image, a screenshot, jpg or tiff into a PDF. These image-only PDF files are not searchable, and their text usually cannot be modified or easily marked up. This is because they are scanned/photographed images of the pages, and thus without an underlying text layer.

You can converted these kinds of image-only PDFs from non-readable text into readable text, through an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) engine. This engine adds an underlying text layer into the image-like PDF. Do note that this is not the same as simply producing text output which will result in a text document, this is probably quite different in layout to the original PDF, see below for more detail.

 

3. Searchable PDFs:

A searchable PDF is a result of applying the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) function into the non-readable PDF or image-like PDF. During the text recognition process, the software analyses and 'reads' the characters and document structure. This results in the PDF file having 2 layers: one layer containing the image and the second layer containing the recognised text for searching, annotating and copying / pasting just like it can in a real PDF. Such PDF files are almost indistinguishable from the original documents. The gold standard is being able to convert PDF to text on the fly, in-application, when you need to.

 

Casedo can do that for you, take a look at this article to find out more.

 

References:

  • For another spin on the 'three types of pdfs', go to the Abbyy website article HERE
  • If you want a technical look at the 8 different actual 'standards' that exist for pdfs, Marconet has a good explanation HERE
  • Iceni Technology talks, briefly, about 'mixed' pdfs HERE
  • Over at Investintech.com there is another more technical article which puts pdfs into a historical perspective, HERE

 

UPDATED: 2022.11.04


Casedo Founder Video

As a video editor, Ross was used to digital tools that helped him make sense of multiple audio and visual files. When he began his law studies, he assumed legal practitioners would have similar tools. Tools for making sense of all the documents surrounding a single matter. Instead teachers handed out around 10kg of books to study! So he decided to find the solution himself, but he couldn’t, because it didn’t exist, so he had to create the solution himself. That solution is Casedo, as he explains in this Casedo Founder Video.

Casedo is designed to help you make sense of your documents, emails and other papers. Ross created it to allow you to work as you work, not using some system designed by software engineers. Casedo’s drag and drop flexibility allows you easily add, order and reorder documents on an ongoing basis. Casedo allows you to read them in the order that makes sense to you. Cross-reference and cross-check, comparing witness statements to law, or research to the latest group theory.

Casedo is the non-linear reader that allows you to tease out the meaning in the documents in front of you. Because of Casedo’s design, you can pick up where you left off with a single click without having to open the same documents time and again. Instead, everything is as you left it, in a single workspace that saves time and cognitive energy. Stay focussed and get on with the work you are paid for. Don’t get stuck with the endless document admin that has been taking up so much of your time. And at the end of the process, when the case is complete? You have a ready-made archive which you can jump back into at any time in the future.

 

Find out more

If you want to know how Casedo Solves Common Problems with Legal Workflows, take a look at this article, it explains how Casedo will save you time and energy.

 

 

UPDATED: 2022.11.04


Woman working at a desk who needs the right tools for her job

What kind of work do you do?

You need the right tools to minimise the document admin you’re not aware you’re doing, and get on with your actual work, your deep legal work (not the preparation). Part One

 

In this series I’m going to look at why you need the right tools for the legal work you do and why these tools are just as important as being an efficient and effective legal practitioner. In fact, the wrong tools are a barrier to effectiveness. I’ll show how, for all its flaws, the traditional paper bundle remains a flexible tool attuned to case workflows, whilst digital replacements to working with paper bundles remain not fit-for-purpose. I’ll continue by explaining why your current workflow isn’t working, and in the final part will tell you what you need, why, and where to get it.

Throughout this article I’m going to use the term Matter (in capitals) to refer to the legal issues you're working on. Matter, is this way also includes ‘Case’ and ‘Brief’.

In this first part of the article I’ll touch on

  • why it’s important to know what kind of work it is that you do before choosing the tools
  • the need for having the right tools for the right job

 

What kind of work do you do?

On the face of it, this is an easy answer, in terms of your job description perhaps, or how you feel about yourself and what you do professionally. But in order to be able to choose the right tools, rather than just falling into ‘choices’ as many of use do (for example there are easily more than 30 direct competitors to Adobe Acrobat Reader, many excellent, yet most of us stick with Acrobat, or whatever our computer came with when we bought it), you need to take a step back and ask yourself, what is it that my clients are paying me for?

 

PDF Editors are not all things to all people

So, you’re a legal practitioner, what kind of work do you do? At Casedo some legal professionals we speak to tell us “I use a PDF editor.” That suggests that the work they do is just reading / editing documents, and on the face of it this might seem the case. But it isn’t.

Besides the fact that PDFs were originally created to share consistently formatted documents without the need for editing, and that editing PDFs is clunky and time-consuming compared to say using Word, ‘just reading’ PDFs suggests an experience akin to reading a research paper or an essay, ie. in a linear, perhaps chronological, way.

As a lawyer, this is not what you do. You have a Matter before you, comprising of dozens of different documents of many types, you need to need to read and understand, make links, pick out common threads, and so digest the documents. In other words you need to make sense of all the documents related to the Matter, and thus reach professional legal conclusions based on this. It is not a linear reading process, it is non-linear. What you do is make sense of a Matter, how you do it is through non-linear reading of the documents related to that Matter.

 

Having the right tools for the job in hand is vital

If you’ve got to do some blue-sky thinking for your business, retirement, that novel you’ve been cogitating on for years, you need a pen and paper. There are no external inputs needed for blue-sky thoughts, the opposite, in fact.

But what about your legal work? There are external inputs; client emails, law, and other miscellaneous documents. They often arrive in a hotchpotch of ways, perhaps email or shared storage, and even then they come in different file types that need opening by different applications.

 

I've got this - But have you really?

You’ve already dealt with this, right? You’ve got a great way of filing your case-related documents, in a case management system or in, for simplicities sake, File Explorer. Add to that a PDF reader for reading documents and Word for editing / creating new documents. You’re satisfied that it works for you, even if it’s not perfect, what else is there to say?

Well, a case management system is for managing documents, not specifically for reading and understanding them. You open and then complete few matters on the same day, meaning that every time you are looking to work on this Matter as it progresses over the following weeks or months, you’re going to have to open each and every file individually. In a paper bundle you’d have everything in one place, in a digital case management workflow you might have hundreds of documents to open individually. Evidently, this is not the right tool for the right job. To stick to the paper analogy, imagine, instead of a single paper bundle each separate document related to that matter was bound and filed separately, that would not be fit-for-purpose.

Paper bundles evolved over many years, they are an excellent benchmark for a fit-for-purpose legal tool. In the next part of the article I’m going to look at paper bundles in more detail, explaining why they’ve been such a difficult tool to replace digitally.

 

 

 


Casedo supplies software and infrastructure for University College London Law Society Moots for 2022/2023

Following the announcement a couple of weeks ago that for the first time Casedo is partnering with the Open University Law Society for the coming academic year, Casedo is delighted to announce that for the third year in succession Casedo is partnering with the University College London Law Society (UCL Laws) for all its internal mooting needs.

 

As part of Casedo’s support for law students throughout the UK, UCL Laws students for next year will once again be using Casedo for every internal moot in every round. Once external moots are announced Casedo will be looking to partner for these events too.

“Our partnership with Casedo has proven incredibly fruitful in helping us familiarise the next generation of lawyers with the legal technology they will undoubtedly come across by the time they come into practice.”

“Casedo is easy to navigate and has helped us greatly reduce our carbon footprint by allowing all our mooters to create and share their case bundles virtually.”

Camilla Cerruti, UCL Law Society President 2022/2023

All Casedo software updates are included within annual and monthly subscriptions.

Casedo helps you the way you work, better. You can trial Casedo software for 30 days free of charge. To access your free trial, click here.


Casedo announces Casebank, a free legal resource for UK law students – created by law students, verified by legal professionals

Casedo is absolutely delighted to announce Casebank, a free legal resource of marked-up Casefiles for UK Law Students. In its early stages, Casebank is designed to both help law students publish online and to help others with marked-up casefiles of the law they will study whilst at university.  

 

Law Students study a very similar set of cases as part of their studies, wherever they study nationwide. Each Casebank case published provides a webpage including Headnote, Appellate History, references to further cases and a download link to download the marked-up Casedo Casefile. For an example, click HERE. 

Those familiar with Casedo will know that it’s a document workspace designed by lawyers for teasing out the common threads of a case. With Casebank, the user is supplied with a pre-organised case that is broken down into its constituent parts, including the key findings of fact and the issues of the case. With this a user has a pre-setup workspace in which they can hit the ground running on the case, mark it up further and / or import more documents. 

For this process to work, it needs to produce trustworthy content. To this end, current law students choose a case from a defined list that has not yet been submitted to Casebank, they then mark it up according to an agreed rubric. The marked-up file is then shared for review with a legal graduate for comments and finally reviewed by a legal professional. Once published, the name of both the submitter (Casebank Research Associate) and the reviewer (Casebank Reviewer) are published. 

 

“It’s early days for Casebank, but I’m thrilled it’s now up and running.  We’ve had such a positive response from many of our (Casedo) users who’ve readily volunteered to help to review the cases submitted to the website that it has given us confidence that Casebank has a strong future as a free resource for law students.” 

Jim Hitch, CEO, Casedo


OULS Casedo Logos

Casedo supplies software and infrastructure for all Open University Law Society Moots for 2022/2023

Casedo is delighted to announce that for the first time it is partnering with the Open University Law Society (OULS) to supply Casedo for all its mooting needs for the coming academic year.

As part of Casedo’s support for law students throughout the UK, OULS students for next year will use Casedo for every moot in every round, this follows the successful us of Casedo by the University College London Law Society over the last two years.

"The Open University pioneered the digitisation of legal studies with its LLB programme and as the largest student law society in Europe, the OU Law Society represents a large body of students who are passionate about improving access and efficiency in their legal research. Many of those students will shortly be practitioners of the law and as such the OULS is very excited to be partnering with Casedo, whose platform for digital legal research and precedent collation is going to prove invaluable to our very talented mooters. In supporting our mooting competitions, Casedo is helping us to expand opportunities for both OU students and law students throughout the UK. We're very grateful for their support and look forward to growing together."

Johnathan Doran, Chair of the OULS


Are PDF Forms redundant?

Are PDF Forms redundant? – Part 2

And why is it that people keep insisting on using Word for forms?

 

In the first part of this blog I looked at what forms are and what makes a good form. I then had a look a both Word and PDFs for making forms. I this second part of the blog, I’ll briefly summarise the problem with both Word and PDF forms and then look at the alternatives.

 

What is the problem with Word and PDF forms?

When creating forms in Word or PDF, The whole process feels back-to-front. After all, what is the ultimate point of having a form in the first place? To collect data. And yet with both the Word and PDF way of creating a form, you start with the form not organising how the data is going to look. And it’s the data, as we keep being told, that is everything these days.

 

Here comes the cavalry – online forms

This isn’t news to anyone who has worked with online forms for the last decade or more, but there are much better ways to create forms out there, and they are both far easier and much more useful, even, or perhaps especially, for the lay person who just wants people to sign up to their kids club or register interest in work team event.

 

Front-building solutions

Whilst there are many bespoke solutions out there Google Forms and MS Forms are both very attractive options, as they lead with the form filling process and so will be familiar to those who have used Word and PDF for their forms in the past. They are extremely simple to use: create the fields and text for each that you need, and you’re off. Once done, share the link with whom you want to fill in the form and watch the responses come in on the same portal, or click a button to export the responses to a spreadsheet. Both are almost identical in how they work, they are very simple to use, with a very uncluttered interface. Yes, you can’t craft the perfect form in terms of formatting, but they get the data collected, data you can use.

 

Building from the ground up

Airtable, which we use at Casedo, works the other way around. Airtable is an online relational database, it’s a very powerful tool, that is essentially tables that can interlink and hold attachments as well as many type of text and numerical data. The collected data can then be analysed using a variety of graphical tools. To create a form in Airtable, you first create a table of the information you want, and then create a ‘form view’ which gives you a simple form with fields of the data that you want collecting, you can choose to include or exclude any of the fields, and add conditions to the form so that some fields only appear if certain answers are given to other fields. Again, as with Google Forms and MS Forms, you can then share a link to the form, or embed it in a website.

There is a trade off here, to be sure. With Airtable you get the full power of a great online database and less bells and whistles with the form creation itself, whilst with Google and MS Forms the opposite is true.

Again, there are a multitude of online form providers these days.

 

Conclusion – are PDF forms redundant?

Before researching for this article, I would’ve said yes and whilst my view has changed, it has only just budged. I have discovered that you can export the data from a PDF form, but it doesn’t appear to be pretty, and as I mentioned previously it all seems back-to-front. The same goes for Word.

For document workflows and making sense of any matter or research there are tools like Casedo for importing PDFs and Word docs and bringing them together to make sense of them. Word is still the go to Word processor, I could name some competitors, but when it comes to PDFs, this is the de facto standard for document sharing, I’m not sure the word ‘competition’ even fits.

However, when it comes to creating forms, Word should be laid to rest, and I feel you’d need a very good reason to use PDFs for creating forms, because the online solutions out there, three of which are suggested above, are standout superior.

 

 


Are PDF Forms redundant?

Are PDF Forms redundant? – Part 1

And why is it that people keep insisting on using Word for forms?

 

Submitting data, whether it’s to apply for a loan, registering a child for a summer camp, or signing a local petition, is part of life. But how the data is gathered and how usefully it’s gathered is key to both being able to use the data and being able to request additional data again. In this two-part blog I’ll provide a quick overview of what forms are and what makes a good form, and then run through the main form types used today with a particular focus on PDF forms.

 

It’s all very well talking about slick B2B processes and what’s available for those that get paid to put efficient systems in place, but in our daily lives, both professional and personal, we need to gather and share data, but we are often doing this on the fly, using methods that we have seen around us. The problem is that legacy workflows have often been superseded by much more efficient ways of doing stuff that we don’t know about.

 

Word forms have haunted us for decades

And this is exactly the issue. It used to be that forms would be typed up and copied using a printer, a photocopier or carbon paper. Then word processors appeared and we could type up a form on our screens and then just print off as many copies as we wanted to. That technological leap was more than three decades ago, and though new solutions are out there, many people insist on still using Word, only now they email the Word document around, to be filled in, as a form, with all the formatting rearranging as you go along. Not infrequently these forms are intended for printing and then filling, this is a non-business request and the number of non-printer households is decreasing - 82% in 2014.

Patently, using Word for forms is ridiculous. Word is many things (I write this with it now), but it is not for forms. Though I imagine you can export or save it as such. It is so poor because it doesn’t tick any of the boxes that a good form should tick:

1. The form creation experience

2. The form filling experience

3. The usefulness of the data entered

What can you do with the data that has been entered? Your options are to manually copy and paste it elsewhere, create a complex script and / or just archive it.

 

And so to PDF forms

When it comes to document management and document workflows, PDFs are fit for purpose. They were designed to be documents that can be shared in a variety of ways and keep their formatting and integrity. PDFs can have underlying searchable text whilst not affecting what the viewer sees. They had been the standard for decades. Tools such as Casedo import them seamlessly into their workspace for document analysis and mark up of multiple PDFs as if they are a single document. PDF Editors such as Adobe Acrobat Reader and PDF Expert can view multiple PDFs in tabs and edit the documents themselves, there are dozens of PDF Editor on the market.

Additionally, PDFs have been used as digital forms for a long time now. But how do they fare with our three key tests?

The Adobe form creation experience is not that straight forward. You are essentially building form fields around a text document. It’s time consuming and clunky, but it does have the advantage of creating a potentially very attractive form, and so nails number two on our list. Which brings us to the last thing on the list, the usefulness of the data itself.

It took a little time to find this, but data can be exported out of PDF forms, but the process smacks of reverse-engineering (a bit like PDF editing itself), it doesn’t look simple, but can be done. So for our third benchmark, PDF forms don’t fare well.

 

In the next part of the blog I’ll summarise the issues with using either Word or PDFs for forms and look at the online alternatives.