Craig talks with Ernie the Attorney about his new book “Adobe Acrobat in One Hour for Lawyers”.
Click to Listen
to Legal Leaders podcast. Today is a
special episode focused on Ernie’s new book, Adobe Acrobat in One Hour for Lawyers. For those of you who may not be familiar with
Ernie, he is one of the top legal bloggers around. His blogs include One-Hour Blog, Paperless
Chase and especially relevant to today’s show, PDF for Lawyers.
how are you doing today?
doing great, Craig. It’s great to be
here and great to talk to you about technology once again.
long ago, you sent me a review copy of your book. I’ve got to tell you I’ve been teaching and
using Acrobat for over a decade now and I was very impressed. Truth be told, on the job today I used some
of the things that I picked up from your book.
you so much! What will happen when it is
fully released is that people in the legal profession will find it and see that
it’s a good guy book and reference manual on how to get more out of PDFs in the
practice of law.
me why do you think this book really is better for attorneys or legal
professionals than the other books that may be out in the market.
pitch to lawyers is “First off, you should learn how to use some kind of PDF
manipulation program because you encounter PDFs all the time. If it’s in this rotated page or you need to
extract the page or you need to zoom in, you need to have some basic PDF skills
because PDFs are now basically, digital paper.
That’s what they are designed to do: be a representation in digital form
of a piece of paper.”
encounter them more often in our lives in and outside of the law practice. We encounter them in law practice a lot. We encounter them in e-filing. We encounter them in e-discovery. We encounter them just in our everyday
lives. You need to learn how to
you’re gonna do that, your choices are Acrobat which is the Adobe program that
lets you do that. Adobe created the PDF
standards so they’ve been fooling around with it longer than anybody else. But you can buy other programs like PDF Nitro
or there are probably other choices. Acrobat
is more expensive than other programs.
But you need some kind of program so there you go.
don’t think there are other books that explain to lawyers how to use it. In the Acrobat world, for years, there’s a
guy named David Masters who has written a book called Lawyer’s Guide to Adobe Acrobat.
It’s an ABA-published book.
book is kind of taking over from him because he chose not to continue writing
his book. They asked me, “Would I pick
up the mantle and write a book?” I said,
“I would.” His book, the last one
covered Acrobat 8. My book covers 10 and
11. There’s a gap where 9 isn’t covered. If you want to learn how to use Acrobat,
then you need a book. The only book
that’s out there to teach lawyers how to use Acrobat is gonna be my book.
: As I
was looking at it more, I really feel that this is the book that needs to be
the companion for anybody who’s using the program. Lawyer’s time and any professional’s time is
worth so much.
of the Microsoft Office beta products, I think there’s nothing more used than
Adobe in the legal world, especially with e-filing and all the
requirements. It’s just something that’s
started a blog, PDF for Lawyers, in 2004.
In my first blog, I didn’t have a specific legal purpose per se. I had a name that indicated that I was a
lawyer. I got attention. I talked about the law, but it wasn’t
dedicated to just talking about the law.
blog that became my legal blog was really PDF for Lawyers. It was because I was using PDFs increasingly
as I tried to become paperless. I
realized that if you’re gonna be paperless, you have to know do something with
the stuff that replaces the paper and that’s the PDF.
really set down and try to learn everything I could. I read David Masters’ book which was
great. I had this blog so people would
email me questions or suggestions. I
learned a lot just by having a blog either because I had to answer a question
or because people who were inspired by me told me how to do things.
was really looking forward to writing this book. For years, I’ve been talking to groups about
how to use PDFs and so forth. But when
they leave, they said, “That was really great.
But do you have a comprehensive guide?”
Now, I do.
I put everything I know about how to use PDFs, how to rotate, zoom, do
everything. There are features of
Acrobat has on “Here’s how you do these things.” As a lawyer, I never cared about that. I’m busy.
Just tell me how a lawyer would have a problem. I’m e-filing.
What are the things that I need to do?
If you’re e-filing, you might need to break up the document. You might add exhibits. You might need to add an exhibits ticker. You might realize you made a mistake in the
typo in the Word document and now, it’s in PDF.
Do you have to go back to Word to edit it? No, you can edit it in Acrobat.
are those little things that happen when you’re getting e-discovery, when
you’re e-filing. I wrote a book to solve
those problems. That’s how I wrote
it. This is why you would do it this
way. These are the problems that tend to
more like it does explain how to do all the things that you do as a lawyer, but
it also talks about the common work for us.
That’s why I think it’s a valuable resource because it is something you
can read through quickly to see what’s in there in an hour two. You’re not gonna learn it in an hour or two,
but you’ll know that it’s in there. When
you encounter that problem, you can say, “I need to look at that chapter.”
really like the content of the book. It
seems you really covered a lot of things.
The other value in the book is it has a good index. So you’re in the middle of a problem, maybe
you’d look at the table of contents and you can spot it there. But if not you just look back at the index
and maybe you can get right to what you want right there. I think that’s part of what adds value to the
: I could have made it longer. ABA said, “You can publish the book like David
Masters did which is the bigger standard-size book and you can have as many
pages as you want. But it can have
colored screen shots and it’s gonna cost more.”
said, “I don’t want a book that’s gonna cost that much because I don’t think a
lot of lawyers are gonna pay that.” They
said, “It needs to be a narrow-spaced book.
Those can’t be more than whatever number of pages.” I had to truncate but I compressed. I went back and I took out words and semi-colons,
whatever I could do to cram in all the information that needed to be there.
also sent the book to a lot of people. I
said, “You guys are in the front lines.
You’re dealing with this. Did I
miss something? Is there something I
could say better?” I got a lot of really
good feedback from like for example Rick Borstein who has the Acrobat for Legal
Professionals blog and worked for Adobe.
His comments were amazing.
incorporated all these comments. I don’t
feel like it’s my book. It’s my book
mostly but these are people that I got great feedbacks from that help write it
too. The book is great for that
reason. I compressed it. It’s got over 120 colored screen shots that I
personally sat there and I captured it and edit it so people could see how
things were done. I don’t know how I
could make it any better.
really seems great. I’m sure you put a
lot into it. I love the aspect that it
really has been a community effort.
wanted to ask you. One of the things I
see as I travel around is that some firms, they have strictly Adobe and then
some firms have the competitive products.
What would you say makes it a good idea to buy the Adobe products versus
my view, there are certain principles that you don’t want to run the follow out
of technology. There are a lot of petty
lies and foolish decisions when you encounter technology. If you understand technology and you know
what the trade rules are and you’re self-sufficient then yeah, save money
whenever you can.
problem with going with a platform or a product that’s not the dominant one, right
away certain things start to not click. When
you are on a non-dominant platform, it’s harder to find people who can help you
to do the thing you want to do. It’s
hard to find training. It’s hard to find
a reference manual.
those little things like that then there’s the plug-ins. Do all the plug-ins that people created for
Acrobat work like these dynamic sticker plug-ins? That can auto-in commands so you can quickly
add exhibit stickers to a PDF which I always want to do. There are plug-ins that let you
auto-bookmark. There are plug-ins that
let you auto-link for hyper-linking that judges are getting into. There are those little things. These are real vast ecosystem around Adobe’s
you’re really desperate to save money, is it really gonna save you a lot of
money or are you gonna paint yourself into a corner? That’s my question. I’m not gonna write a book for new ones
because I have to learn new ones. I’m
not gonna spend that much time. I have
to do it over years. I can hack out a
book, but it’s not gonna be good as the book I wrote for Acrobat. That’s just the example.
the program itself, is expensive. But if
you’re getting value out of it, what do you care? If you’re saving thousands and doing amazing
things and you’re able to hire new people to work for you who already knew how
to use Acrobat, it makes your life easier.
You’re not gonna care about the extra money. The people who care about the extra money
probably aren’t using any of them that much.
I wouldn’t do it. I know a lot about
PDFs. If I’m not gonna do that,
beware. How much money are you really
saving and what are you giving up?
agree. I think with your core products
and your PDF products have won, you just don’t need to mess around. I’ve been around technology world long enough
where I’ve seen these things. You always
have competitors and that’s good for the marketplace.
generally speaking, the market leader for your core hardware and software is
what you want to go with for exactly the reasons you mentioned.
you tell us a couple of tips that our audience might find useful as far as
dealing with PDFs?
my PDF for Lawyers blog, for people who signed up for the email newsletter, I
try to automatically send them those things that will get them up and
running. One that you will get
automatically if you sign up is my one-page cheat sheet of keyboard
shortcuts. That’s also in the book.
to me, is the thing you should start with.
The key to being good with PDFs is learning how to zoom in quickly, how
to rotate a page, how to navigate to a page, how to invoke a search function
easily without going to look at the menus.
more comfortable you are zooming in, zooming out, navigating and doing all
those things you do all the time with the PDF even though you’re not
manipulating it. Learning those things
is the thing that’s gonna get you over a major barrier.
reason why you should have the cheat sheet is you print it out. You put it next to you. Whenever you want to do something, go look
and see and say, “Here’s how I do it with a keyboard shortcut.”, until you
memorized those shortcuts.
cheat sheet is also a list of the key skills.
There a lot of things that you can do with a PDF that can come up from
time to time. On that cheat sheet, those
are the things that I do all the time.
It’s in the book.
other thing that’s in the book which is additional too is the workflow thing
where I say, “What do you do if you’re doing legal research? How do you assemble that?” I can’t put all the work flows that I created
because there are not enough space. I
have that as a separate thing. I’m gonna
give that as a Word document so they can edit it.
would like them to give it back to me if they find something that’s really cool
that I didn’t include so I can share it with everybody. There’s a lot of work flows that people have,
tricks on how you sign things, how you get documents ready to produce, all
those stuff that lawyers do all the time.
Right now, I give that away for free.
That’s 5 pages of work flow stuff.
: Outstanding! That’s great!
Anything else you want to add, Ernie?
feel free to email me. Find me on my
site. Let me know what you think about
the book. I’m very excited to see how
people put it to use.
our audience know where is the best place for them to go and find out about the
book and maybe pre-order a copy.
you go to pdfforlawyers.com , there’s a thing that says ‘the book’. You click on that. It will walk you through the detailed
explanation of the chapters, things that the book covers and you can download
the 45-page excerpt in PDF form of the book to see what the book actually looks
like and all that kind of stuff.
would just say I highly recommend it.