If you’ve been in the legal profession for any length of time, you probably know the difficulties of filing court documents in person. The ordeal usually involves taking time out of your busy day to print out paperwork, hand it in to court (or organize a courier), and then get a case stamp. With advances in technology over the past few decades, many courts have begun to allow legal practitioners to file their documents electronically.
E-Filing, short for “Electronic Filing,” has since revolutionized the court filing process, allowing legal professionals to submit documents online from anywhere.
Despite all the benefits, however, many struggle with one aspect: file size limitations. In the legal field, it is not uncommon for documents to be tens or even hundreds of pages long. However, most court management systems only accept files around 35MB in size.
Compressing PDFs for court systems
You can compress PDFs to ensure they are easily accepted by court management software. And you have many ways to do just that.
In this guide, we will show you five easy ways to reduce the size of a PDF file using different software.
5 ways to compress a PDF file for court systems
When it comes to compressing a PDF file, legal professionals have several choices. Here we show you some of the best ways to quickly shrink your files so you can get back to work that really matters.
Compressing a PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Optimizer
Adobe PDF Optimizer is notoriously a bit more complex than one-click compressors. But what it lacks in simplicity it makes up for in quality. The application gives users more control over specific compression settings, including images, fonts, and other content. Discover the different elements that you can change in the optimizer.
Before you compress a file with Optimizer, determine its size. To do this, just open the PDF file and select “File” then “Properties” – this will show you how big it is. If your file exceeds the size limit accepted by your state, you can make it smaller in Adobe PDF Optimizer as follows:
- Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat
- At the top left, click File > Save as Other > Optimized PDF
- In the top-right corner of the pop-up, click Monitor Disk Space Usage.
- Check the largest sections of the document and compress as much as possible
- Check the box next to the items you want to shrink
Compressing a PDF file in Optimizer is a manual process – but it’s a good option when you need to preserve the quality of important elements in your files that one-click compressors might shrink.
Compress a PDF file on a Mac
If you are an avid Apple user, don’t worry. There’s always an alternative way to perform tasks on a Mac, including compressing a PDF file. On your Mac, your PDFs will automatically open in Preview. You can follow the steps below to compress an existing PDF:
- Open the document you want to compress in the Preview app
- Choose File > Export (do not choose Export as PDF).
- Click the Quartz Filter menu and choose Reduce File Size.
Compress a file from Word
Most Word documents are not too large and you can often save them as a regular PDF. If your file is too large, you can save a compressed version directly from Word. Just follow these steps:
- Open the document
- Click File > Save As
- Under Files of type, select PDF
- Go to “Optimize for” and select “Minimum size (publish online)”.
- Your PDF file will be compressed automatically
Note: Some versions of Word do not offer this feature. If you don’t have the option to zip your document from Word, you can use one of the two options below.
Compress a file online with Adobe
Even if you are not an Adobe user, Adobe offers a free online compression tool to minimize the size of your documents. This is arguably the easiest and fastest way to compress an existing PDF.
- Click the Choose File button at the top of the home page.
- Select the PDF file that you want to shrink
- It is uploaded and compressed
- Download the compressed version of your file from the Adobe website
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Compress a file using other online tools
There are also several other free online PDF compression tools similar to Adobe compressor such as: B. SmallPDF. This is how it works:
- Click Choose Files at the top of the landing page
- Select the file(s) you want to compress
- Choose your desired compression level
- Edit your PDF if needed
- Download your compressed file
If you choose a free tool, you should make sure that none of your data is stored online. For example, SmallPDF will delete your information an hour after compressing the file.
Other legal platforms like Infotrack offer automated court files. The Clio integration allows users to email documents to state courts directly from their Clio matter. Each document is automatically converted to a PDF file, while a built-in compression tool ensures documents meet court file size requirements.
Tip: Avoid scanning paper to PDF
Scanning a paper file to PDF results in a larger file than converting digital files to PDF. It is therefore essential that you only scan paper copies if no digital copies of the documents are available. If you scan documents frequently, here is our advice on choosing a scanner for your law firm.
What happens when you compress a PDF?
You may be wondering what exactly happens to your document when you compress it. As expected, this is a technical process. In short, the compression tool uses an algorithm that detects redundancies in code and identifies areas that can be reduced to reduce file size. These can be unnecessary pixels or embedded fonts, for example. Perhaps most importantly, compressors maintain the quality of your document as much as possible.
Remember: Usually, once you’ve compressed a file, you can’t undo the operation. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you back up your files in advance.
The benefits of electronic filing
Electronic filing allows you to submit court documents quickly and easily accessible to all parties. Let’s go through some of these benefits in more detail.
- It is practical. It’s a breeze to submit court documents via e-filing. With just a few clicks, you can securely upload documents from anywhere, anytime. For this reason, electronic filing plays an important role in the legal profession’s shift to teleworking. That’s becoming increasingly important, especially with the Clio 2022 Legal Trends Report found that less than 30% of lawyers work exclusively from the firm.
- It eliminates paper waste. Another benefit of electronic filing is that it reduces the need to print out physical copies of documents – which helps reduce environmental impact. This also brings significant cost savings.
- It’s faster than traditional methods. Lawyers struggle to find time each day to exercise their rights – in fact, most spend less than three hours out of an eight-hour workday doing billable work. With electronic filing, court documents can be processed quickly without requiring frequent trips to the courthouse.
- It brings peace of mind. Electronic filing reduces the risk of human error associated with manually entering case information. Plus, you don’t have to worry about files being lost or corrupted in transit. Immediately after submission, you will receive an automatic e-mail confirmation of receipt as well as copies with an electronic file stamp from the court.
- It improves accessibility. With electronic filing, all case information is immediately available to the public and it’s easy to convert files into searchable court records. This improves access to a wealth of important legal documents.
Given these many benefits, it is not surprising that the number of lawyers filing their paperwork via email is increasing. The Report of the ABA Legal Technology Survey 2022 found that of the 84% of respondents who said they file documents with their state or local courts, they do so electronically an average of 180 times per year. That’s an increase from 155 in 2020.
Final notes on compressing a PDF file
Today, many legal professionals use technology to streamline the process of filing court records. While e-filing promotes efficiency and accessibility, many case documents are large. The good news is that compressing a PDF file is an easy way to adapt your documents to your local e-filing needs.
This is just one of the many powerful possibilities that technology has brought to the legal field. From accelerating client onboarding to automating tedious tasks to simply accepting payments, Clio helps attorneys spend more time exercising their rights. Find out more about our solutions here.
How do I compress a PDF without Adobe?
Adobe offers a free online compressor that anyone can use without an Adobe account. To compress a PDF without Adobe, open the free PDF compression tool in any web browser. Then click Add File (or drag and drop it into the browser), choose your compression level and click Compress.
We published this blog post in July 2023. Last update: .
Categorized in: Technology