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Metadata Assistant – Removes the Junk From Your Word, PowerPoint and Excel Files

Imagine how you would feel if your opposing counsel could read your mind. Imagine how your clients would feel if they learned that you had sent your strategies and other information to the other side! Of course, you would never do that. Or, have you in fact done so - albeit unknowingly. At ITS, we not only know about Metadata, we are experts. Dan Siegel, sometimes called the "Metadata Guru" has lectured dozens of times about the legal and ethical issues relating to metadata, and can help you address your office's needs.

Metadata AssistantIf you have ever sent a copy of a Word document, or other file, to another attorney, you have almost certainly, and unwittingly, provided him or her with additional information that you had no intention of disclosing. How can this happen? Easily. Most common software programs, including Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, contain metadata, which means "information about data." According to Microsoft, metadata, which you will not see on your screen, may contain your name, initials, company or organization name, other file properties and summary information, the names of other authors of the document, information about revisions, including other versions, hidden text, comments, and the time spent editing the document. Other programs, like Corel WordPerfect, retain similar information.

For example, the metadata in a relatively simple Answer to a Complaint filled five single-spaced pages and revealed: when the document was created, when it was last saved, when it was last printed, the number of revisions made, the total time spent editing the file, and then outlined 104 separate changes made from the first to the last version. That is a ton of information.

Metadata is not something only geeks know about. It is a major issue, and lawyers who send or file electronic copies of documents without removing the metadata risk serious problems, possibly lawsuits, and certainly the loss of clients. Inadvertent disclosure of metadata raises ethical issues as well.

Clearly, lawyers must take reasonable steps to remove metadata from any documents they supply to opposing counsel or to anyone else. The problem is that metadata does not disappear with the click of a button. What should you and your firm do? First, establish a policy that addresses if and under what circumstances electronic files may be sent to other counsel. Second, in the event your firm approves the transmission of electronic documents, you should establish a procedure that assures that metadata is removed before a file is sent to opposing counsel or others, including the media. For some firms, that may mean that all attachments are sent to the IT for review and scrubbing. In other firms, the cleaning process will be left to either the attorney or his or her individual staff.

After deciding that you will scrub files, the next step is choosing the appropriate method. The most simple method, and least effective, is to clean the Microsoft files using the processes already built-in to Word or other programs. Microsoft offers some methods for removing metadata, but in my experience they do not work well, and most computer users will not be able to follow the steps successfully, and will likely ignore the scrubbing process.

The most practical options for Word users is to convert your file to a pdf using Adobe Acrobat. The other option is to purchase a metadata scrubber, which is a software program that analyzes your documents and cleans the metadata. The one that stands out is Metadata Assistant, which is used by 1,000,000 users worldwide.

Metadata Assistant integrates with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, and is easy to use. Metadata Assistant works within Word and other programs. It offers many options, and provides a very detailed report . Metadata Assistant will scrub your file, and also offers the option of converting the file to a pdf format. Finally, the program integrates with Microsoft Outlook. Whenever you send an e-mail with a Word, Excel or PowerPoint file as an attachment, Metadata Assistant automatically pops up, and offers you the option of cleaning the file, sending it as-is or converting it to a pdf. Best of all, when it cleans the file, it does not change the original document

Now that you know the problem, contact Integrated Technology Services to buy Metadata Assistant. Reasonably priced, Metadata Assistant will be an invaluable asset to your office. For more information, call (610) 446-3467 or click here send an email.



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