Yes, it is expensive. However, Adobe Acrobat Professional is a powerful and necessary tool to manage electronic documents in your law practice.
Many court systems, including the Federal Bankruptcy Courts, are using ECF (electronic filing) now. The documents to file electronically must be in PDF format. Being able to save, manipulate, and edit the PDFs quickly and efficiently is the biggest reason you need Acrobat Professional in your law practice. You will find out, as you use the software more, that there are many useful things you can do with Acrobat Pro.
But first, one way to save some money on the full retail price of Adobe Acrobat Pro is to buy something like the Fujitsu Scansnap s510 Scanner, which comes pre-bundled with Adobe Acrobat Standard. Then you can pay the greatly reduced upgrade price for the most current, professional version of Acrobat (currently 9.0).
So what’s so cool about this program? First, after you’ve scanned in a document to PDF, it will perform OCR (text-recognition). This allows you to copy-and-paste text from scanned documents (very useful when quoting from depositions). The OCR also allows you to quickly perform a search through the document for keywords.
One practical use of this OCR / search feature was during one of my trials. As a witness was testifying, he began to contradict earlier deposition testimony. I could not remember where, out of the 500 pages, this contradiction could be found — but I knew it was there somewhere. I did a search in Acrobat (the deposition was scanned and saved as a PDF with OCR) on my laptop in-between questions, found the impeaching portion within a matter of seconds. I proceeded to use this information in the usual lawyerly manner.
Another practical use of the software is search-and-replace redaction. For example, striking out social security numbers in documents.
Version 9.0 Professional also quickly and automatically can produce unique Bates labels.
There has been an entire book written called The Lawyer’s Guide to Adobe Acrobat.
In the end, whether you pay $100 for an upgrade or $400 for a full license, it will be money well-spent in your practice.