Melody Easton explains how one firm has implemented redaction at scale.
There is more pressure on law firms now to get redaction right than at any other time in recent memory. Consider the most recent high-profile misstep, when Paul Manafort’s lawyers masked text with black boxes instead of properly redacting it.
Even if the information you redact isn’t potential evidence of collusion with a foreign government, you want to be confident it can’t be copied and pasted to a Word document and read by anyone.
Fortunately, proper redaction doesn’t require any more work than text masking does. Drawing a black box and converting to PDF, for example, is a messy, manual workaround. (Not sure if you’re masking text or redacting it? You should ask an expert.)
And proper redaction is scalable so it can be used for large cases with hundreds of documents.
Irish firm ByrneWallace uses a PDF redaction tool to handle large cases. The firm’s Head of IT, John Kelly, explained that switching to proper PDF redaction was needed because their old system “only had limited resources for redaction, and it couldn’t do the job. We had to find a better alternative.”
John and Frances Flynn, the firm’s Senior IT Application Support Specialist, got advice from a group of IT Trainers from other top Irish firms. The group, which meets quarterly, shares knowledge about legal technology, and which solutions are or aren’t working for them.
Their advice led the firm’s IT department to switch to a PDF file editor that had a proper redaction feature. A PDF redaction solution completely removes text from a document once the redaction is applied. Rather than masking the text layer, proper redaction completely burns it out, so it is no longer in the file.
The firm uses its PDF redaction solution to “redact sensitive information in Litigation-type departments,” explained John.
Additional capabilities offered with PDF redaction tools save time and make proper redaction scalable. Using pattern search and redact, users can quickly locate strings of text or numbers, like credit card details or social security numbers and apply redaction to all or just select instances.
Besides helping staff at firms like ByrneWallace work more efficiently, proper redaction is a much safer way of protecting client information than text masking.
“We knew we had to take extra steps to safeguard against data breaches in the current climate,” said John.
How foolproof is your redaction workflow? Every time you draw a black box or change the font color to white to mask text you risk becoming the next redaction story.
Ready to learn more about redaction workflows that really work? We released ‘The ultimate guide to redaction: What works, what doesn’t’ to help everyone get redaction right.
About the author
Melody has more than 15 years' experience in marketing products and services to the legal industry. She spearheads marketing efforts in the EMEA region for DocsCorp, and can be spotted behind the booth at events and conferences across the region. When not working from the London office, Melody enjoys travelling and spending quality time with her family.