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Keeping Track of 'Track Changes'

Every lawyer who uses Microsoft Word should take a few moments to read "Staying on Track with Track Changes," by legal bloggers and technology pros Tom Mighell and Dennis Kennedy, appearing in the current issue of Law Practice Today. As they point out, the "track changes" feature in Word is an enormously useful tool when lawyers are collaborating on a single document. But it amazes me how many lawyers fail to realize that this entire history of collaboration can end up being stored invisibly in the document as metadata.

Mighell and Kennedy review some of the more notable horror stories of how metadata can come back to haunt a document's author. But the point, as they explain, is that "such information could be potentially embarrassing, revealing, or compromising." Their article sets out the issues to be aware of in using the track-changes feature and then presents a round-up of Web sites for learning everything you ever wanted to know about it. They write:

"The ability to monitor the revisions made to the legal documents you create is critical, and the Track Changes feature is a terrific tool for that purpose.  But because we are often dealing with our client's confidences when we draft these documents, it is crucial to not only understand how Track Changes works, but also how its misuse can result in the inadvertent disclosure of privileged or otherwise privileged information."

The bottom line, of course, is that what goes into a document as metadata should come out of that document before you send it as final.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on March 16, 2007 at 05:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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