I recently participated in a webinar with Larry Port from Rocket Matter about how to create and run a paperless law office. During the webinar, we received a number of questions that we were not able to answer at the time. One of the questions that we received was from an attorney who needs to review multiple versions of a contract. The
attorney wanted to know if there was a paperless way to do this. I have already answered the attorney, but I thought it made sense to address this question here, as well.
First, there is a definitely a paperless way of doing this. In fact, I think that there are three paperless ways of doing this.
First, if the process you were using before involved having paper documents in front of you and comparing them just by looking at them, you can do the same thing in a paperless fashion. The easiest way to do this is with multiple monitors, where you have each document on a separate screen and then you can look through them at the same time. Additionally, if you have a large screen television in your conference room, you can also display your documents there and review them in a larger than life version. This method is the least efficient method, however, and it does not allow you to truly leverage the power of the technology. You are just looking at the documents on the screen rather than on paper. Thus, I would recommend trying one of the other two methods that I discuss.
The second option is to document comparison with the software that you already have. For example, Microsoft Word has a Compare Documents feature. It allows you to compare two versions of the same document and it will create a document that shows you the differences. This feature is accessed on the Review Tab. Once there, simply select the Compare button. You can then choose the documents that you want to compare. If you have both versions of the document in Word, then this is a great option.
If you do not have both versions in Word, you can still run a comparison. For example, the PDF software that you use likely has a compare documents feature. In Adobe Acrobat DC, simply go to the Search Tools box and type compare. The option that pops up will be Compare Files. Select that and you are off and running. In Nuance Power PDF Advanced, the option is on the Advanced Processing tab. Once there, you can select the compare button. I have also checked and the same feature is also found in ABBYY FineReader and Nitro Pro. I presume that other PDF software has this feature as well, its just that those are the only four that I have to check. A great benefit to the PDF comparison is that the documents need not be in the same format. For example, you can have one document in Word and one in PDF, and it will still run a comparison. The ABBYY FineReader Compare Feature states:
The final alternative available to you is software that is designed to identify differences in documents. If you do a significant amount of document comparison, then you may want to check this specialized software out. The software that is probably most well known is Workshare Compare (this is the software that used to be known as DeltaView). I am sure that there are other solutions out there as well. In fact, a quick Google search reveals that ABBYY also has a stand alone product called Comparator. Given that it is more expensive than ABBYY FineReader, I do not know if there is a difference in the engine that runs this comparison software from what is found in FineReader. Regardless, if you are in the market for document comparison software, there are definitely options available for you.
If you really enjoy using paper, then go for it. However, there are some tasks that are much better suited to machines than to people. The initial review of documents to compare them is absolutely one of those tasks. If you find yourself in need of comparing two documents, make sure to avail yourself of one of the many software options available to you.