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Chapter 7 - Managing Litigation Information Using Technology

Developing Document Control and Image Numbering Systems.

Developing Document Control and Image Numbering Systems. The document and imaging numbering or coding system for your application gives you control over the documents. If you are going to image documents, the document database record number and the image record or file number may be the same number. A document and imaging numbering or coding system can be very simple or sophisticated, depending upon your desires and the needs of a particular case. Below are three possible methods of coding your documents and images:

  • Tips:
    • The Avery Pro Labeler program (www.avery.com) will automatically generate alphanumeric numbers or bar codes in serial increments on attachable labels.
    • Manually, you can obtain what is called a Bates stamper that automatically increases the number on the stamper each time it is stamped on a document. This will assist you in not having to either write the increasing numbers on the document or manually changing a stamper each time you place a number on a document.
    • Outside service companies that copy or image your documents can customize document bar-coded numbers to meet your needs. - Some photocopiers now automatically place a number on your documents as they are being copied. If possible, attach a number along with a bar code. This will assist you later with automatic indexing, in-court presentation, or for pretrial retrieval purposes.
    Numbering System Only - You may decide to number your documents and images using a numerical system from A00001 through A10000. Thus, all the documents in the case would be given a number between A00001 and A10000. Your numbering system must always contain the same number of numerical and/or alphabetical digits. In some programs, you must put zeros before the number up to the greatest number that you will be coding. For example, if you are coding up to the number A10000, then you must put in four zeros before the number one for your first document, i.e., your first document will have the number A00001. The computer reads the document number from left to right, so if you enter the number 12, it will be retrieved before the number 2, since it reads the first column of the document number first.
  • Numbering System by Document Type - You might decide to set up a numerical coding system by document type. For example, in a contract case, the numbering system might be set up as follows:
    A0001 - A0999 Contract #104 documents
    A1000 - A1999 Contract #205 documents
    A2000 - A2999 Financial records for ABC Company
    A3000 - A3999 Cash receipts for widgets
    A4000 - A4999 Open
    A5000 - A5999 Pleadings and correspondence
    A6000 - A6999 Documents obtained from Req. to Produce
  • Sophisticated Numbering System. Many document-coding systems will utilize letters and numbers for a specific document to provide additional information about it. Below are some possibilities for a document coding system:
    • The first letter or digit is the party that produced the document.
      1 = Plaintiff Adams
      2 = Defendant Smith
      3 = Non party Jones
    • The second letter or digit is the location of the document.
      A = Warehouse
      B = File cabinet
      C = Main office
    • The third digit is the day it was produced.
      1 = Plaintiff’s request to produce dated October 5th, 1981.
      2 = Defendant’s request to produce dated November 16, 1981.
    • The fourth alpha/number is the actual document number.
      A001 = Contract #104

For example, a document with the number 1A1A001 would mean the document was provided by Plaintiff Adams, is located in the warehouse, was received pursuant to Defendant's request to produce dated November 16, 1981, and the document number is A001.

Though it may seem complex, if you begin a coding system that you're comfortable with, you will discover after a short period of time that the codes can be easily remembered and you will not need a coding sheet each time that you code a document.

Tip: Whatever coding system you devise beforehand, make sure to test it out on the software program sorting and retrieval system. It will read the code numbers differently, according to whether they are letters or numbers.

Coding Your Documents. It is suggested that a procedure and training manuals be developed to ensure that all the documents are coded in a consistent uniform method. A procedure manual will contain a description of the document processing that will take place and the order of the screening process. A training manual relates to a particular case and explains to the trainee HOW each step is to be performed and what is pertinent to the case.

Coding the documents can be accomplished by using either an "image" of the document or the "hard" copy. The advantage of imaging your documents is that the extent of the coding for the documents can be determined as the case progresses. With imaging, you can always retrieve the document, since it is linked to a particular database record for instant viewing. For example, after a document has been provided limited objective coding and the document's importance has increased as the case progresses, then the document can be immediately accessed on your computer screen to do subjective coding.

"Hard" copies can be coded and not imaged and then filed in 3-ring binders for later retrieval for viewing and further coding, if needed. Hard copies should be in a central location.

Coding Your Documents. There are a number of different methods for entering information into the computer from the documents. You can:

  • Direct Entry. Enter the field information directly from your documents into the computer.
  • Printed Form. Reproduce an exact printed form of the computer record with fields where someone can manually write in the information. After someone checks for accuracy, you can then enter it into the computer.Tip: One firm, when they are training support staff on the data to input, will take a replica of the computer document form and enlarge it several times as a teaching aide to explain the different fields of data entry.
  • Dictation Equipment. Using dictation equipment, record the information to be entered into fields, and then have support staff enter the information into the database.
  • Voice Recognition. Use voice recognition software that works with your database and insert the information directly into the database fields.
  • Batch Entry. This is a method of entering document information in a certain format in a word processing program and “batching” it over or importing it into the database program. By this method, you can have a team of typists enter data quickly in a word processing program for importing into the database. The database “imports” the data into the database fields. This is a great time saver, as it allows an experienced word processor to enter the data quickly. Batch entry, when done by teams of typists at multiple terminals, is a very powerful and efficient way to enter data of either large or small quantities.

The following are some other timesaving techniques for entering data into a database program:

  • Duplicating Function. Some programs enable you to press one key in a specific field to duplicate the information contained in the same field in a prior record. For example, if you typed in ABC Purchase Contract in the TYPE field of your prior document record, then, when you are at the TYPE field in a subsequent record, press the appropriate key and the TYPE will be duplicated in the second record automatically. This is used most effectively while objectively coding documents.
  • Incremental Increases. This feature will automatically increase the present document number by one from the previous document number. If you go to the DCNO field of your second document and press the appropriate key, the document number will automatically increase by 1.
  • Field Entry Defaults. This feature enables you to make the information in one or more fields appear in the document summary without retyping. To override, merely press the clear key or type over the information.
  • System Date. This feature permits you to place the current system date into a field with one keystroke.
  • Lookup Tables. This feature increases the speed of data entry and will ensure that words are not misspelled. At the press of a key, a lookup table will appear on the screen and will list, for example, the names of all relevant persons. Select the name or names of your choice, and by pressing the enter key, the name will be inserted into the appropriate field.
  • Macros. While adding information in the different fields of your computer form, you have the option of creating macros that you can activate any time. Macros are essentially the ability to combine several keystrokes into one "macro" keystroke. For example, if you were entering the phrase "Code of Federal Regulations," you could save this phrase as a macro. Then you could press one keystroke to have this phrase automatically typed into the field of your choice in the same or different records. The macro would be saved for the future, even after you exit from the program.
  • Field Properties. For each field that you create, you have the capability to limit and define what information can be entered into that specific field. For example, you can designate a field a “date” field and only dates can be entered in the field.

Find Legal Software


Digital Practice of Law Book

Digital Practice - TOC
Ch.1 - Automating the Practice
Ch: 2 - Computers
Ch: 3 - Networking and Group Computing
Ch: 4 - Internet & Telecommunications
Ch: 5 - Management and Personnel Considerations
Ch: 6 - Computer Concepts and Legal Applications
Ch: 7 - Managing Office and Litigation Information Using Technology
Implementing Litigation IT
Ch: 8 - Using Multimedia in Legal Proceedings

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