Tech Tip - Are Your Documents as Clean as They Should Be?


As legal professionals, one of our biggest fears is for sensitive information to end up in the wrong hands. Not only is it embarrassing, but it can compromise a firm's reputation and ultimately, its viability.

Lawyers routinely negotiate documents by trading versions of Word and PDF files via email. As news of yet another recent incident was circulated, it served as an important reminder on how imperative it is to ensure the documents we file with courts or share with others are “clean.” 

Often, we pull language from previous work product or even entire documents as a starting point. It’s relatively easy to remember to change the obvious data such as names, addresses, etc. However, electronic documents are often full of hidden digital baggage from previous uses of the same file. This additional information is known as metadata.

Simply put metadata is “data about data.” Metadata can include your name, your initials, your company or organization name, previously tracked changes, previous comments, the name of your computer, the name of the network server or hard disk where you saved the document, other file properties and summary information, non-visible portions of embedded OLE objects, the names of previous document authors, document revisions (number of revisions and duration of revisions), document versions, template information, and hidden text. Any time a document is updated, metadata is saved to the file.

While there are native metadata removal capabilities built into Word and PDF programs like Acrobat and Power PDF, using technologies designed for this purpose such as BigHand Scrub and DocsCorp cleanDocs will mitigate risks of data breaches.

The BigHand Scrub document cleaning solution can automatically clean Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files. BigHand Scrub automates metadata removal, allows you to configure varying levels of metadata management, and protects staff from unwitting confidentiality breaches.

DocsCorp cleanDocs offers two points of defense against email attachments containing metadata: metadata cleaning and email recipient checking. Its metadata scrubber removes more than 100 different types of metadata that could be hidden within Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF documents in milliseconds.

If you have any questions about metadata and the risks of scrubbing legal documents and correspondence or would like to hear more about the tools available, just ask an Affinity expert by calling 877-676-5492, or requesting a consultation.


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Beth Thompson

Written by Beth Thompson

Beth Thompson leads the Client Engagement Team. With her extensive background, her persistence and her industry knowledge, Beth is unstoppable when it comes to helping clients and potential clients achieve their goals through processes and automation. Beth worked for Juris 20ish years ago, before they sold to Lexis. From there, she worked for Thompson Reuters/Westlaw, Equitrac, BigHand, BillBlast, NetDocuments and most recently for Adaptive Solutions, leading their sales team selling iManage. She has great strategic relationships and experience in the legal industry which is incredibly valuable in meeting our clients’ needs. It is not every day that someone who is knowledgeable about billing/accounting products, electronic billing, dictation, template creation, cost recovery and document management software comes around, AND, the fact that she has an extensive background helping clients succeed makes it even better!

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