A “load file” is a special kind of file that you may encounter in sets of case related materials. While there are many different flavors of load files they all serve the same general purpose: they can be used by litigation support software to import (i.e. “load”) information about case related documents.
Document information may include:
- Name and locations of image files (typically scanned paper files).
- Document unitization information (i.e. document breaks).
- OCR (searchable text) file names and locations.
- Electronic document (ESI) file names and locations.
- Extracted metadata information.
- Other fielded document information.
Load files can play an import role in assisting with the setup of a case document database. When properly used, they can make the process of importing documents into litigation support applications faster and more efficient. Some programs that support the importing of load files include evidence review programs (like Summation, Concordance and IPRO) and trial presentation programs (like TrialDirector and Sanction).
Load files have different file extensions depending on the program they are designed to work with. When talking with litigation support vendors, or discussing the format of discovery with opposing counsel. It is important to recognize which load file formats work with your litigation support programs.
Some common file extensions of load files that you might encounter are:
- .DII designed to work with AD Summation
- .OPT designed to work with Concordance
- .LFP designed to work with IPRO products
- .OLL designed to work with TrialDirector
- .SDT designed to work with Sanction
- .DAT generic document information load file
- .CSV generic document information load file
- .XML new “EDRM” style load file format that works with many platforms
Many load files contain the path of image files associated with a record. They may also contain meaningful additional information about the documents. For scanned documents, this may include a bates or control number, coded document information (like document type, date, title, etc…) and information about OCR (searchable text) files that might be associated with the document. Load files for electronic documents (ESI) may also include extracted metadata (associated information about the files such as author, date created, file size, etc…).
Most load files are simple lines of text that can be read by litigation support programs. When viewed in a text program like Wordpad or MS Word we can see what the lines contain. Here is an excerpt from a sample .LFP load file (as seen in in Wordpad):
This particular load file contains information about document images. Litigation support software programs can read this file and know:
- the record identifier (usually the bates number) of a document
- where one document ends and another begins
- where to find the scanned paper .TIF files associated with a document
There may be times when you will receive multiple types of load files within the same set of documents. Some of the files may contain the same information, but are designed to work with different database programs. When working with vendors, let them know what litigation support database programs you intend to use so that they give you compatible load files.
In the event you receive load files that are not designed for your database program, you may need to convert the file to make it compatible. Fortunately there are a few free load file conversion programs available. Two such programs are:
- ReadyConvert from Compiled Services (compiledservices.com)
- iConvert+ from IPRO Tech (iprotech.com)
To find out more about how load files can best be used interact with your existing litigation support applications refer to the help and support documents of the program. Quite often, these are the best resource for describing how load files interact with the case database and will often demonstrate the load file import process.