Tech Tip: Save Hours Responding to Document Requests or Creating Exhibit Lists with This Simple Trick

By Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

The day I returned to the office from a 7-day vacation, there was a lot of work to catch up on. By 3:00 PM, I was feeling very accomplished. I had completed most urgent matters on my to-do list for that day. However, around 4:00 PM, an attorney walked into my office with an urgent assignment. The project was to take approximately 3,000 computer files (subfiles, zip files, all types of different file formats), give each file a description, and create an exhibit list for an upcoming arbitration. I was told our deadline was the next day at 5:00 PM. The documents had already been sent to printing.

There was a brief moment when I felt overwhelmed. I began calculating how long it would take to look at each of the 3000 files on the computer and create descriptions suitable for the exhibit list. If I did this manually, I would need to type 375 filenames per hour (or 6.25 file names per minute) to have it completed in 8 hours and that’s if I never took a break.

I could have panicked, but my mantra has always been to work smarter – not harder. With technology, there’s almost always a way to automate processes to make tedious projects less cumbersome. With a few mouse clicks here and there, I completed the project in a little over an hour and the final result was 82 pages of itemized exhibits, perfect to cut and paste into a formal exhibit list in time for tomorrow’s deadline with plenty of time to spare.

I’m going to show you how to save a lot of time when preparing exhibit lists or responding to documents requests using ridiculously easy steps in Microsoft Windows. I’ll use the following fictitious filenames (not client files) as an example:

  1. Name your files exactly as you’d like to describe them when itemizing them on a responsive discovery template or exhibit list. (To save editing time in the future, consider using a naming convention that would work for any future exhibit lists).
  2. Highlight all the filenames you want to paste into Word for use as discovery response descriptions or exhibit list descriptions.
  3. Hold the “Shift” key to select the files you want to include, then hold the “Shift” key and right-click.  The menu will appear and then you select “Copy as path.” TIP:  You must hold the “Shift” key after highlighting files to make this work. A regular right-click will only give you the option to “Copy” and you need to “Copy as path.”

After you select “Copy as path,” paste into your Word document. Results will look like this:

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\May 2018 – Bank of America Checking Account Statement Account No. 1234567.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\June 2019 – Chase Sapphire Reserve Statement Account No. 34567890.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\May 2019 – Chase Sapphire Reserve Statement Account No. 34567890.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\May 2019 – T Mobile Phone Bill for Telephone No. 123 456 7890.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\April 2018 – T Mobile Phone Bill for Telephone No. 123 456 7890.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\March 2019 – T Mobile Phone Bill for Telephone No. 123 456 7890.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\February 2019 – T Mobile Phone Bill for Telephone No. 123 456 7890.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\January 2019 – T Mobile Phone Bill for Telephone No. 123 456 7890.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\December 2018 – T Mobile Phone Bill for Telephone No. 123 456 7890.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\December 2018 – Bank of America Checking Account Statement Account No. 1234567.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\November 2018 – Bank of America Checking Account Statement Account No. 1234567.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\October 2018 – Bank of America Checking Account Statement Account No. 1234567.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\September 2018 – Bank of America Checking Account Statement Account No. 1234567.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\August 2018 – Bank of America Checking Account Statement Account No. 1234567.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\July 2018 – Bank of America Checking Account Statement Account No. 1234567.docx”

“C:\Users\alici\Downloads\June 2018 – Bank of America Checking Account Statement Account No. 1234567.docx”

With a few clicks of your mouse, your exhibit list has been created!

A few helpful tips:

You may prefer to remove the file path and just leave the filename after the last “\”. A quick find/replace (in this case, find “C:\Users\alici\Downloads\” and leave replace option blank) will remove the file path.

If you are producing your documents on an external storage device (e.g. DVD, CD, or thumb drive), the file path following the drive letter (in this case “C:\”) will be the same when a party views the DVD, CD, thumbdrive, etc. on their own computer, but they may have a different drive letter. A drive letter (or device letter) is a single alphabetic character A through Z that is assigned to a physical computer drive or drive partition. You may, as a courtesy, want to note the drive letter issue on the cover letter for your discovery responses to help attorneys that may not be technology savvy.

Additionally, if you have files that you do not want to convert to PDF because you all have agreed to the exchange of metadata (lost if you use PDF or TIFF) or for some other reason, you can add a Bates number to the filename. The Bates number, as part of the file name, will copy over when you copy the path to Word for ease of reference.

That’s it. You’ve just saved hours of time.

There is also a slightly messier way to use Command Prompt to achieve similar results, which you can find here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/196158/how-to-create-a-text-file-list-of-the-contents-of-a-folder)

If this tech tip was helpful or you have your own tech tip that you’d like to submit to the PD Blog,  please email ncbaparalegals@gmail.com.

Alicia Mitchell-Mercer is a litigation paralegal and legal project manager with Brown & Associates, PLLC. She also works as a legal project management consultant for Lex Project Management Consulting Group. She has a B.S. in Paralegal Studies and a M.S. in Project Management. She is a certified paralegal through the NC State Bar, SC Bar, NALA, and NFPA and a certified Legal Project Practitioner through the International Institute of Legal Project Management. Alicia is the Technology Committee Chair and Communications Co-chair of the North Carolina Bar Association, Paralegal Division; volunteers with the NC Guardian ad Litem program. Email: alicia.mercer2014@gmail.com; LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aliciamercer/