Years ago, there was a lot of discussion in the legal community about metadata, the hidden data contained in documents that had the potential to reveal more about the document than most lawyers would like. It was a potential problem when using forms from a past client’s matter as a form for a new document in a new client’s matter.
Most law firms adopted the practice of using “cleaned” documents and templates for their forms rather than reusing a prior client’s work. Today I am sharing a great article from Law Technology Today on how that cleaning process works: Clean Up Your Docs with Microsoft’s Document Inspector. If you didn’t recall how to remove the metadata from a document, there is a fair chance that others you work with didn’t either, so this may be a good link to share with others in your office.
Just this summer I was reminded of how easily it is for metadata to mislead. One of my programs for the current OBA Summer Series was a presentation on client portals. As I prepared to send my PowerPoint to the OBA CLE Department, I noticed that the author’s name was an ABA staff person who certainly didn’t prepare my PowerPoint. She did, however, prepare the PowerPoint template for ABA TECHSHOW 2021 where I gave an earlier version of this presentation. I changed the author’s name to my name, but it wouldn’t have been a problem had I not noticed. A lawyer who had billed a client for preparing that PowerPoint would have probably been asked about the other author, unfamiliar to the client, had something similar happened. The same could happen with a Word document.
Microsoft’s Document Inspector is a tool lawyers need to understand and use as needed. But there are some tips to using it correctly, such as the two things you must do before using Document Inspector, which are contained in this great article.