Question. In what form and on what media should you deliver the document bundle to your lawyer?
By “form” I mean in what format the documents should be delivered. By way of example, whether the documents are to be delivered by hard copy, or in electronic format. If they are to be delivered in electronic format, whether they be delivered:
- in native format, that is in the form in which they were created (eg. .doc [word], .rtf [word],.msg [email] .pst [email],.xls [excel]; or
- in an image format, that is in form in which an electronic image has been made of a hard copy document or a native format document ( eg. .pdf [acrobat] or .tif [Tiff], or which exists in that form natively (eg, photographs taken in .jpg, .pcx, .raw or other image format)
By “media” I mean upon what media the document bundle will be delivered. By way of example, hard copy documents are normally delivered on paper media. Electronic documents can be delivered on CDROM, USB Disk, Tape, or electronically by email (as an attachment or by way of link where documents can be uploaded or downloaded.
Answer. You first need to ask your lawyer how he would prefer to receive the documents. If he has not adopted electronic technology he may only be able to accept hard copy. In that case, ideally each document should be provided to him in a folder with a contents list and where each document delimited by a tab.
Hopefully, his firm has adopted electronic technology in which case there is a lot more flexibility in the form and the media on which the bundle is provided to him. The choice of form and media will depend upon your and his capabilities.
In most cases the media is not important. Your lawyer should be able to handle it. However, I would not generally recommend providing the document bundle on a tape format unless your “technical guy” talked to his “technical guy” before hand.
The purpose of this post, is to explain how I would prefer to receive the document bundle in order to reduce my time and the cost to you in my review.
Hard Copy Documents
- to receive all hard copy documents electronically.
- that each hard copy document be scanned in preferably a “pdf” format, or failing that a “TIFF” format. Each scanned file be named using the following protocol:
“[yyyy-mm-dd][sss][rrr] description of the document”.:
“[yyyy-mm-dd]” is the effective date of the document;
“[sss]” are the initials of the sender or the firm
“[rrr]” are the initials of the recipient for the firm
- A letter sent from Gilbert & Tobin to Paul Bard Lawyers on 1st April 2012 enclosing Application for Special Leave would be described as:
[2012-04-01][G&T][PBL] Letter enclosing Application for Special Leave.
- A deed of settlement between Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent dated 1 April 2021 would be described as:
[2021-04-01][FP][AD] Deed of Settlement
Soft Copy Documents.
- to receive all soft copy documents in native format, preferably adopting the same folder structure in which they were original stored.
- Native files other than emails can generally be copied to the media. It is important to preserve the meta data including the last file save date etc. To preserve the important metadata, I generally alter the attribute of all files to make the read only.
- Today, emails will probably amount close to 75% of all documents in the document bundle. In order to include these documents in the bundle, they need to either copied to a temporary “.pst” folder in outlook, or saved as a “.msg” format. Programs are available, such as “Outlook Extract” http://www.japler.com/index.htm that can extract and process .msg files very easily. It can even rename the files using a similar name protocol to that discussed above.
The Determination of Date of a Document
What is important is to establish what is the “effective date” of a document, that is the date that the document was put into the form that it now exists in.
For final transactional documents, the date would be date that the document is signed.
For draft documents, it would be the date that the document was last modified.
For correspondence, it would be the date when the document is sent, posted or delivered.
Where a document is sent to an external party, the date and time that document is sent.
Use of Metadata in determining the date of an electronic document.
A lot of electronic documents have metadata which can be used to determine the date of a document. All Microsoft office documents have metadata purportedly indicating
- When the document was created.
- When the document was last modified
- When the document was last printed.
Email contain a lot of meta data, such as
- when the document was sent or received.
- who the document was sent to
- who sent the document
- the subject matter
- other more complicated information.
Today, Photographic Images may also contain a surprising amount of metadata such as
- time the photograph was taken
- the geographic location where the photograph was taken
- what camera it was taken on etc.
Information from metadata has to be used and interpreted carefully.
Metadata may evidence that a document was created at a later date, than the purported date of the document. (e.g. the creation date disclosed can be after its last modified date). However, it is also possible that the creation date of a document, could be the date that the file was copied to the particular disk, as opposed as to when it was originally created, depending upon how the file was copied.
In other cases, a document can be created from using an earlier document as a precedent, in some cases the creation date of the new file, could be the creation date of the original precedent.