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The Redaction Conundrum

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

There is no doubt, the legal tech market has been booming with amazing projects. But the day-to-day reality of most litigation practices is far from that. Redacting documents is one of the best examples of how the real life of lawyers if far from the glamour of what they show on TV.


Because of the high importance of protecting clients' confidential information, oftentimes even the non-substantive side of the process is done by (junior) attorneys. When my wife started her career (before Adobe developed their redaction function), she was taught to redact documents in the following manner:

  1. Highlight proposed redaction in yellow in the Word document that is still being drafted.

  2. Get proposed redactions approved by partner.

  3. When the brief is final, change the color of redactions to black.

  4. Print brief to PDF as image (to lose OCR ability).

  5. Re-OCR PDF.

Some attorneys, however, forget or do not know about the key step: number 4. Without that, the reader can simply copy paste the blacked out text and it will show up without the black highlight in the new word document. In a staggering number of high-profile cases, attorneys failed to properly redact documents by forgetting this vital step.


Now, with Adobe, the typical process is as follows:

  1. Highlight proposed redaction in yellow in the Word document that is still being drafted.

  2. Get proposed redactions approved by partner.

  3. When the brief is final, mark the approved redactions in PDF document.

  4. Apply redactions and remove metadata.

Although this process leaves less room for error, it does not save a lot of time as attorneys still have to spend a significant amount of time transferring the redactions. Even if they use their staff to make that transfer, significant oversight and quality control is necessary. One of our testers, told us that even though she identifies "what needs to be redacted for the paralegal to apply," but then she still has "to review his or her work for accuracy and will have a back and forth to fix any mistakes."


Further, an increasing number of courts and judges require that motions to seal include a copy of the brief with highlights in lieu of the redactions so they can easily review and decide whether redactions are appropriate. This doubles the time wasted on redactions (including reviewing staff work product) and increases the potential for errors.


Enter LitKit


LitKit's redaction tool (patent pending) is as simple as 1-2-3. You get to mark redactions as you're drafting your motion. The partner can review and edit as she reads through and edits your motion. Once the brief is final, you can click to print (1) a redacted copy; (2) a clean copy without redactions; or (3) a highlighted copy of your brief. No room for errors, no wasted time, no 11:30 PM rush to get all of this right.


Our testers called the Redaction Tool "highly intuitive," "pretty great," and "much more efficient" than their old process.


LitKit is coming in January 2020. Sign up to get more information or a demo on our homepage.







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