Quick Tip: Join Character Strings in MS Excel

October 6, 2010

Have you ever wished that you could smash two cells together in Excel?  Ever need to add a prefix or another bit of data to a cell?  MS Excel has a function designed just for that purpose, and its called Concatenate.  Its a funny name, but this little function can save you a ton of time and headache with a few simple clicks. 

For example, let’s say you have the first 5 digits of a zip code in column A, followed by the last 4 digits in column B.  To join them together:

  1. Insert a column where you need the merge to be
  2. Click in the cell where the first instance of your desired merge will go
  3. Create a formula by typing in the = sign, then click in the 5 digits zip cell (which adds the cell location to your formula)
  4. Enter the + sign, then click in the cell that contains the last 4 digits
  5. To add a  – or any other symbol between your cells just add &”-“& between the 2 cell locations.
  6. At this point, your formula should look something like this: =A1&”-“&B1
  7. If you have rows zip codes to create, you can use the same formula in each merged cell by using the hovering your mouse on the bottom right hand corner of your merged zip code cell until you see the little + sign.  Simple drag it down to auto-fill the entire column with your merged zip formula.
  8. Lastly, highlight the entire merged zip code column and copy, then paste special , values.  That will keep your merged zip code permanent, even if you move the column or delete any of the columns that contributed to it.

I use this concept weekly to add a bates prefix to a column that just contains bates numbers.  For this situation I create a column with my bates prefix by typing it in one cell and dragging it to auto-fill the entire column.  I then create a formulate that merges the letter prefix and the bates number into one cell.

Quick Tip: Adding a Watermark in Adobe Pro

September 29, 2010

I recently attended a lunch and learn about all the functions of Adobe Pro.  I use this software almost everyday, and it seems like I am always discovering new functions – its amazing what it can do.  I did a quick little watermarking project the other day and I thought I would share with you guys how to do it yourself.  If you have Adobe Professional:

  • Open the document
  • Go to Document in the top menu
  • Click Watermark, then Add
  • Type whatever text you want, then adjust the size (I used 80), the Opacity (I used 20%) and the rotation (-45).

Its really that simple!  Perfect for adding CONFIDENTIAL or a company name in the background of documents.  Play around with the settings and see what works best for you.  Just remember to save a copy of the document pre-watermark so you can easily revert back to the original version if necessary.

Stay tuned for more Quick Tips including MS Excel shortcuts and hints.

Congratulations Mark & Daniel

September 10, 2010

 We are pleased to announce that Mark Lischka is now a partner in Rainmaker Document Technologies.

Mark has been with Rainmaker since it was founded in 2003, over 7 years ago.  His dedication and service have helped make Rainmaker the success that it is today.  Mark has over 11 years of experience serving the Austin legal community. He began with IKON in 1998 as a customer service representative and was promoted to Account Manager in 1999. He has been with Rainmaker since if was founded. Mark also spent 18 month running RLS Legal Services in Beaumont, TX.

Please join us in congratulating Mark on this great achievement.

In addition, we would like announce the return of Daniel Lara to the Rainmaker sales team.  His return will allow us to spend more time with each of you and continue to serve our clients in the best way possible.  If you see him out and about, be sure to say “Hi.”  Welcome back Daniel!

Quick Tip: Collecting Outlook Email Addresses

August 26, 2010

Let’s face it, not everyone keeps their outlook contacts up to date.  It takes time to enter every one’s contact information and it seems like there is never enough time.  If you are faced with the challenge of needing to collect all the email addresses you have sent or received from, Outlook provides an option that will allow to do just that.  No email harvesting software necessary, just follow these simple steps:

  • In Outlook click on File, Import and Export and the Wizard opens up
  • Select the option to Export to a File and click on Next
  • Select Microsoft Excel 97-2003 (or a CSV file) and click on Next
  • Select the folder you want to collect from and click on Next.  For starters, try you sent mail and inbox.
  • Click on Browse to select a location and then type the file name that you want to export the information to and then click on Next
  • Here is the important bit – click on Map Custom Fields. This will bring up a list of all the available fields that are available in that folder.
    If you are only interested in Email address, click on Clear Map and then from the Left side click on From: (address) and To: (address) and drag that to the Right list
  • Click on OK
  • Click on Finish

The file it exports may look kind of crazy, but it is simple to clean up.  If you want to delete personal emails (hotmail, gmail, etc), just find and replace *hotmail.com and *gmail.com with nothing and delete the blank lines in excel.  Now, that wasn’t as hard as you thought it would be, right?

NeedleFinder Analysis & Early Case Assessment Demo Available

August 10, 2010


NeedleFinder®’s powerful e-discovery analysis technology enables legal teams to reduce costs and increase productivity by culling documents to only the relevant dataset while protecting from inadvertent production of privileged information.

The searching and culling tools are populated with the facts that have been extracted from the metadata contained in the evidence provided by the case’s custodians. Using these tools, you can quickly sort and categorize documents as privileged, responsive, non-responsive, or confidential; or customize the categories as your case dictates. The software’s unique Analyzer tool enables you to view all custodians’ direct or indirect email threads and expose individuals you previously did not know about to mitigate risk.

More Than Search

NeedleFinder’s technology goes beyond search to provide a comprehensive assessment of the evidence to protect your client or organization.

  •  Filter documents by custodian, date range, file type, search terms, tags, document status, and more.
  • Tag documents, emails, attachments, and conversations on the fly.
  • Filter emails by domain, sender, recipients, subject, time, and many other fields; and choose whether to include duplicates, attachments, or email threads.

One Platform

Because it is an end-to-end e-discovery platform, documents reside in NeedleFinder throughout the life cycle of the case. The Send Documents to Review button immediately transfers documents from Analysis to Review. It’s our version of an “Easy Button.” 

If you are interested in learning more about how NeedleFinder can help you reduce your review data set, contact us for a demonstration today at 512-472-9911.  Or, for a quick 7 minute video demo, click here to be taken to the EQD NeedleFinder demo site.

The Electronic Discovery Reference Model

June 7, 2010

The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (or EDRM) may be old news to some but it really is a great visual tool when starting an eDiscovery project.  According to EDRM.net, the EDRM diagram represents a conceptual view of the eDiscovery process and each box represents a major stage of the process.  Intended as a basis for discussion and analysis – and not as the ONLY way to do things – it can help both the legal team and service providers assess the scope & timeline for a case and provides a logical path for collection, review & processing of ESI.


Below is a basic explanation of each of the EDRM steps and where Rainmaker fits into the process:

1.  Information Management – Getting your electronic house in order to mitigate risk & expenses should e-discovery become an issue, from initial creation of electronically stored information through its final disposition.

  • Creating a data mapping plan and knowing where your data resides is an essential step to take BEFORE litigation occurs.

 2.  IdentificationLocating potential sources of ESI & determining its scope, breadth & depth. 

  • Rainmaker’s partnership with the experts at Digital Discovery allows us to assist clients in gathering ESI from all potential sources, not just the obvious ones.  We can also help identify custodians and relevant sources of data, which in the long run can save costs by reducing the amount of data that needs to be reviewed.

 3.  PreservationEnsuring that ESI is protected against inappropriate alteration or destruction.

 4.  CollectionGathering ESI for further use in the e-discovery process (processing, review, etc.).

  •  Proper forensic collection is essential  and we can provided the knowledge and tools necessary to collect data the right way the first time, using defensible methods. 

5.  ProcessingReducing the volume of ESI and converting it, if necessary, to forms more suitable for review & analysis.

  •  Known file identification, date range and keyword searching all help to reduce the amount of data to review. Searching capabilities are available by file type, file extension, date range, keywords and other metadata fields. Once the relevant documents are identified they can be tagged for production or further review.

6.  ReviewEvaluating ESI for relevance & privilege.

  •  One popular option for this stage is an E-load, which allows our clients to review their data natively before they produce. E-Loads can lead to a significant reduction in the number of relevant documents and can reduce clients’ review workload and save them thousands of production dollars.

7.  AnalysisEvaluating ESI for content & context, including key patterns, topics, people & discussion.

  •  This stage is performed by counsel.

 8.  ProductionDelivering ESI to others in appropriate forms & using appropriate delivery mechanisms.

  •  Rainmaker’s EDD solution supports dozens of file types, easily converting your native documents to black and white or color images, capturing full text from text based files and all document metadata from the electronic files.  We offer a variety of electronic labeling options, as well as OCR.
  • Our technology makes load files effortless so they work perfectly the first time. We support all popular formats including, but not limited to, Summation, Concordance, IPRO, CaseLogistix, Introspect, CaseMap, Ringtail, Sanction, Trial Director, iCONECT, OmniDox, JFS Litigator’s Notebook, Doculex, BlueTrace, DocuMatrix, LaserFiche, TotalVzn, PDF’s and PDF files with bookmarks. We can provide standard load fields or customize them to your exact specifications. 

9.  PresentationDisplaying ESI before audiences (at depositions, hearings, trials, etc.)  to elicit further information, validate existing facts or positions, or persuade an audience.

  •  We can assist you in creating and labeling images for use in the courtroom, as well as preparing visual aids such as presentation boards.

 For more information on how Rainmaker can assist you and your team with the EDRM process, please contact us at 512.426.9911.

Note: Except where otherwise noted, content posted at edrm.net is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Webpage to PDF Conversion

May 12, 2010

Have you ever tried to print a web page only to have what prints out look NOTHING like what you see in your browser?  Websites and pages are generally not set up to print exactly like you see on your monitor and often times things move around and graphics don’t print out, which can be incredibly frustrating. 

I ran into this problem when I was re-designing the Rainmaker website and I wanted to print sample pages to share with our team.  The paper version shifted and didn’t look the same as it was on the screen so it was totally useless when trying to share the layout and discuss different graphic options. 

Luckily, at an Austin LSA meeting yesterday, I learned of a few solutions that I thought might come in handy.  The website web2pdfconvert.com allows you to type in the web address and bang – 3 seconds later you have a perfect picture in PDF form.  They do put their logo at the bottom, but that can removed later if need be. 

If you happen to have Adobe Professional you can use it to do your conversion, logo free.  Just open Adobe on a computer with Internet access and click file, create PDF, from web page.  Enter the URL you want and after the status box closes, you will have a PDF complete with URL and date and time stamp at the bottom.  If the create date and time are important, be sure to check that your computer’s date and time stamp are accurate before you create the PDF. 

Both of these are useful solutions for personal, professional or attorney use.  Sometimes it is essential to have a picture of a webpage exactly as it is, before someone has a chance to change it.  Hopefully these solutions will make it easier on you!

Rainmaker Sponsors Bench Bar Conference

April 29, 2010

This Friday and Saturday the Austin Bar Association is hosting the 20th Annual Bench Bar Conference.  The Bench Bar is designed to encourage discussion between the bench and bar regarding practice in Travis County through panel presentations with audience participation and an afternoon session of collaboration.  The team at Rainmaker has been involved in the conference since its inception and we are proud to be printing the course materials and sponsoring again this year.

Rainmaker will be in attendance on Friday during the day sessions to greet clients and share our services with those in attendance.  Friday night speakers and attendees are invited to a wine tasting, buffet dinner and “game night”, including Guitar Hero!  The always-fun golf tournament portion of the conference will be held on Saturday at Star Ranch in Hutto.  Good luck to all the teams participating – especially ours – and thanks again to the Bar Association for bringing together the bench and bar for this important conference.

Happy Earth Day!

April 22, 2010

Today is the 40th anniversary and celebration of Earth Day.  With individuals, organizations and companies participating from all over the world it is a day to stop and think about our planet and what we can do to make environmental protection a part of our daily life.

Unfortunately, discovery is a paperwork-intensive process and that’s why Rainmaker is committed to conducting business in the most eco-friendly manner possible: 

  • We use copy paper certified as part of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which means it is from well-managed forests, backed by a rigorous, third-party certification audit. 
  • We use file folder tabs and redwells made from recycled material.
  • We recycle 99% of all paper generated in our office using a secure confidential document shredding company.
  • Since 2003 our business has evolved from one which annually generated tens of millions sheets of paper to a company which produces 85% electronic images.
  • As of 2008, 99% of all administrative tasks once involving the generation of paper and storage of boxes have been converted to electronic images.
  • We use motion sensitive light switches that allow us to reduce our energy consumption when employees are out of the office. 
  • 100% of our website server power comes from renewable energy such as wind power. 
  • 90% of all waste produced by our building at 111 Congress Ave. is sorted and recycled

Wondering how you can get involved?

  • Commit to take action and reduce, reuse and recycle by picking 5 simple steps that make a big impact.  Visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website for information on their Pick 5 program.
  • Did you know that according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Americans own approximately 24 electronic products per household?  For information on reducing your electronic waste and eCycling, click here.
  • Need a daily reminder to go green?  Sign up for this daily green tip email and get real life ideas from people that are committed to helping the environment.

The Downside of DIY Data Collection

April 6, 2010

In today’s cost-conscious legal environment more and more attorneys are being faced with clients that insist on collecting electronically stored information (ESI) themselves.  While it might seem like a good idea in the beginning, there are some challenges that arise from the DIY method of collection. 

While they are wonderful at their job, IT departments and support staff might not have the legal knowledge and tools necessary to collect data using defensible methods and could end up costing the firm more money in the end.  Possible pitfalls include: 

  • Collection not being done by an independent third party
  • Clients’ collecting their own data without a proper data mapping plan may overlook key sources of data such as deleted files
  • Improper collection can alter or change valuable metadata – for example, Modified Date and Date Last Opened
  • Individuals might not be experienced with forensic applications and damage source data
  • Chain of custody requirements might not be observed, invalidating evidence
  • Opposing counsel could argue about methods and tools used for collection at trial
  • Inadvertent spoliation that would be harder to defend against
  • Individual performing collection might not be recognized as an expert witness to testify


Involving a trained forensics company in the early phases of the Litigation Cycle starts the case off on the right path and can actually save you money in the long run.  Rainmaker has partnered with Digital Discovery to serve our client’s collection, preservation and investigation needs.  Since 1998, Digital Discovery has combined the science of computer forensics with the blend of technology and art to turn back time and paint a vivid picture of what a system was used for yesterday, last week, last month or last year.  Digital Discovery will track down data that was moved, copied, deleted or compromised while adhering to strict rules of evidentiary preservation to avoid spoliation and maintain the chain of custody.  Their certified investigators and practitioners bring a broad range of experience in information technology, information security and forensic investigation in both civil and government matters. As a result, they are recognized as subject expert witnesses in US State and Federal Court proceedings.

Have a new case that involves eDiscovery and not sure where to start?  Rainmaker and Digital Discovery can help you create a data mapping plan and locate potential sources of information that may otherwise be overlooked.  Working together we can collect, preserve and process your data for further review.  After filtering and searching we can provide you with a production set that meets your exact specificaitons.  Our partnership results in an end-to-end solution from a staff that are experts in their field.  If you are interested in learning more about how Rainmaker can help you, please contact us at 512.472.9911.

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