We’re featuring dual Websites of the Week this week. Adobe’s Rick Borstein publishes the blog Acrobat for Legal Professionals. Rick just needs to give us more content! His feature on redaction of PDF files is excellent. Granted he works for Adobe and when he examines alternatives to Adobe you don’t expect he will conclude "buy this $20 knock-off" but his essay on alternatives is informative. Really.  The blog PDF for Lawyers has been hitting its stride lately with lots of posts in December. It is by Ernie Svenson and Dave Fishel. (Yes, that Ernie.) There is a lot of information there. There are many good PDF websites, like PDF Zone, but I wanted to highlight these two weblogs focused on the legal profession.

Sometimes I just pick these sites for fun, but today I’m very serious because the subject matter involves a tool that too many attorneys are avoiding rather than embracing. Almost every week since one of our federal courts went to mandatory e-filing, I get call from an Oklahoma Bar member saying they need to create PDF files for electronic filing and "Isn’t there anything cheaper than Adobe Acrobat?" The answer to that question is yes, but the better question is  "Is there anything better than Adobe Acrobat?"

Well, part one of my reponse really excites some callers. When I ask what word processor they use and they respond with a fairly recent version of WordPerfect, they are pleased (and sometimes embarrassed) to learn of its "publish to PDF" feature. They sometimes have to listen to a few words from me on how this would be also really good to e-mail documents to clients who don’t have WordPerfect and so forth, but they hang up happy. There’s really no better answer than "you already have the application installed on your computer that will do that." Interestingly, some federal court clerks have discouraged this method, stating that the PDF’s generated that way are a bit larger. Well, they aren’t that much larger, particularly with WP 12. And they are smaller than some other third party software or the software bundled with the scanner may generate. But I digress.

There are lots of free or cheap PDF printers, This searchable database at Planet PDF should locate many for you. CutePDF has a nice free PDF printer and the $49.95 version has more bells and whistles. These alternatives make sense if you are operating on a tight budget or only need to do this a few times a year. But sometimes you just need to go with "the real deal." Anyone who has heard me speak during 2005 probably heard me talk about how great a tool Adobe Acrobat 7.0 is for the average, working lawyer. Here’s this week’s example (admittedly not for every average lawyer.) Many of you know that Typepad, the service that hosts this weblog, has had some service issues. It recently went down and for a while many recent posts on Typepad blogs vanished, leading me to think that despite my lecture to lawyers on backup, I had no personal backup of my blog. I trusted Typepad to do that. Well, even though everything returned, I decided to make my own backup. It was very easy to do by visiting each month’s archive and quickly using Acrobat to make a PDF of all of that month’s posts. There are other ways to make a PDF of the whole site as well using Acrobat. when I do online shopping or flight reservations, and I get the confirmation page that says "print this page," I just use Adobe to print it to a PDF.

I wouldn’t want this to sound like a sales pitch, but sometimes you can be, as the saying goes "penny-wise and pound foolish" when looking at PDF alternatives.