Popular Threads - March 2020

How Do I Combine PDFs to Make One Document?


I have a motion as a pdf and I have the exhibits as a separate pdf.

I would like to combine these two pdfs so that the exhibits come after the motion.

How can I do this?

I often use PDF Merger on Google Chrome: https://pdfmerge.smartsfile.com/.

It's super easy, and the result is always exactly what I need.

Hope this helps!

Mackenzie A. Evans, Maryland

Depends – but generally, open the .pdf then click on Tools and then select Organize Pages. Across the ribbon in Organize Pages you should see Insert – click on Insert and a dropdown box will appear that allows you to select the file from where you want to insert the file from. Find the file you want to insert and then it will ask you where you want to insert it (Before or After and then page numbers).

Walter D. James III, Texas

Hunh. OK, that seems to work too, though I've been using combine files thru create PDF.

Ronald A Jones, Florida

Don't know what version/edition you have of Adobe but at least in Adobe Acrobat Standard X:

Go to File

Click on Create:

You'll get a drop-down menu

Near the bottom of the drop-down menu you will see "combine files into single PDF"

You'll get a screen saying "combine files" and below that “drag and drop files and arrange them in the order you want"

Immediately below that you will see "Add Files"; click on Add Files (even if you've already got one of the files open you still need to add files)

It'll give a bunch of choices of where to add files from; I usually just click "add files" and it will open browser window showing your files; if your file is not in that subfolder then just kind of browse thru it until you get to the right folder (usual windows file stuff).

Click on the first file, and then do it again for 2nd or subsequent files.

You'll get the files in order; if you want to change the order then move the order around.

Then, at the bottom of the screen, you'll see button to "combine files". Click that, then it'll combine them and get your new file, in mine usually called Binder1.PDF. Save that under whatever new name you want, 'combinedpleadingandexhibits.pdf' or whatever.

It's confusing figuring it out the first time you do it but once you do it it is cinchy. I use it where I’ve got like a 60 page or whatever exhibit; I scan a dozen pages at a time and simply combine them all into one file.

Ronald A Jones

If you've got Acrobat Pro, with the pages side bar you can just select pages and drag and drop between PDFs. I do this all the time: really handy feature. I assume other advanced PDF editors can do likewise. In terms of productivity, for me Acrobat Pro is second only to my word processor.

Michael Koenecke, Texas

In Acrobat, open the brief, go to the last page, Crtl+Shift+i to insert file. Find the exhibit(s), and insert after last page. Or, File > Create

> Combined Files into Single PDF.

David Masters, Colorado

On a mac


On a Windows PC


Henry Park, New York

I have Adobe standard. You can Open a document, add a file and save as a single pdf. Call me if you have any questions. 435 671 2555

Randy Birch, Utah

I use Adobe DC. It has a Combine function which creates a binder of multiple pdf's. If necessary, then use Organize pages to get in the right order.

Dennis Riley, Illinois

Thanks to all with suggestions on how to combine files. I think I can do this now. One of my office computers has Acrobat DC, which I did not know before.

Roger Rosen, California

This video explains a couple of methods:


Eugene Lee, California

If you're on Mac Preview, you can draft in to the thumbnails on the right.

Dan X. Nguyen, Georgia

Procedures for Solo Practice When You’re Incapacitated

As I go through the malpractice insurance process I am reminded of the value of proactive written policies for businesses (which is funny because I create proactive written policies for businesses in my work). However, I have no idea how to create a feasible plan for what happens if I am incapacitated or die. What happens to client matters? Who takes over? How do you select another attorney to say yes to helping if you're incapacitated? Who would say yes to such a huge ask?

How have you, fellow Solosezzers, handled this issue? (preferably would love to hear from solo practitioners who don't share an office with other attorneys, but work completely solo).

The part I have to work on more is in keeping a current list of ongoing matters. When things get busy, I get behind in keeping things updated. I didn’t have a backup attorney for years until my insurance company started asking if I had one and now Hawaii’s bar asks if we have one. I got lucky in that another solo with a very similar subject matter practice to mine asked if I would be her back up attorney and offered to be mine in exchange. From what I hear from my friends, that seems to be how several solos got back up attorneys. A couple solos tried succession planning by bringing an associate on board or by grooming someone to take over their practice but in those specific cases, it didn’t work out as envisioned. It could work, though.

Naomi C. Fujimoto, Hawaii

When I was in my own practice, my malpractice carrier asked for a backup attorney. A colleague and I agreed to back each other up. Problem is that we did not meet just to keep each other informed. Have a what to do in an emergency somewhere where your backup csm get it.

Mitchell Goldstein, Virginia

The State Bar of Texas has a great start on that process:


Successor Attorney

Scope of Responsibility

Duration and Triggering Event

Duties to be Performed

* Review files for pending deadlines

* Obtain extension on litigation matters

* Contact all Clients about the situation

* Inform the Court and others who need to know status of firm

* Collect Fees owed to attorney – Insurance policies

* Return trust account fees

* Contact banks regarding situation

* Contact business partners regarding ownership of office building

Power of Attorney

Notifying your Clients

(Suggests adding a provision into your Engagement Agreement)

Ethical Issues

* Confidentiality – The client must give consent to have his confidential information shared with successor attorney.

* Conflicts – The successor attorney will need to conduct a conflict of interest check if the review of the client confidential information is being conducted in order to return or transfer the file.

* Barratry – If the successor attorney is contacting your clients and wishes to represent your clients, he/she should be aware of potential restrictions in the Disciplinary Rules with respect to barratry or solicitation.

Authorized signer on the Trust Account

Office Procedures

All billing/time keeper/credit card and bank reconciliation information are located on/at

All client files are on the

There is a list which contains passwords, important numbers, etc. contained on ___ drive on the server.

Walter D. James III, Texas

I am someone's back up, and she is mine. We also cover one another's offices during vacations. I was her work neighbor for years, so I got a pretty good look at her work style and vice versa. My spouse is not an attorney, but he knows which attorneys I trust to wind down my practice or cover in the event I am incapacitated. There are also lovely appearance attorneys who you should meet now in the event you ever need someone to cover for you. I had someone local cover my office when I was on maternity leave, which worked out great for both of us. Another attorney just gave me her cell number and said she's usually available day of in case I get stuck on BART or something.

Here's the kicker, which I heard from someone on SoloSez, you don't want the person who is going to be your backup to be a close friend. Why? They are probably going to be pretty upset that you died or got in a horrible accident. Expecting them to cover their office and yours while also grieving might be a bit much. Just something to keep in mind.

Corrine Bielejeski, California

Also, be clear with your own family and loved ones about your arrangement for shutting down your office in the event you die or become incapacitated so that they know who you have authorized to do what, and so that they know whether the person winding up your cases will pass any money to you or your estate from those cases (this was a HUGE issue in a case here in the category of no good deed goes unpunished for the people winding up a solo lawyer's office. The lawsuit went on for years and years).

Naomi C. Fujimoto

In Florida it is called an Inventory Attorney, and is required for all of us who practice law in the state, unless we are government lawyers.

Further information from the Florida bar:


Mine is one of my associates, but I can think of several colleagues I would ask if I were a true solo. I have agreed to do it for someone I know.

Maybe start with someone you know from law school who can practice in your state, but as you get more established in the community, you can ask a colleague.

Cynthia V. Hall, Florida

Remote Notarization

I'm interested in the status of Remote Notarization in the US, both permanent and temporary.

Yes... I started a Google search for this, but things are changing so fast these days, I thought I'd throw the question out, on Solosez.

In NH, the governor signed an executive order on March 23rd, allowing remote online notarization... with a significant amount of detail on the criteria and process.

In MA, I understand that something is being considered... as of 3/25, it has not yet passed.

Anyone else?

Ohio started Video Notary last July

Erin M. Schmidt, Ohio

as it happens, it's a bit harder to find that list than one might think...

so, here's the link


Laurie Axinn Gienapp, Massachusetts

Try notarize.com

Flann Lippincott, New Jersey


Richard Young, New York

An emergency provision in NY allows it, but in reality it is not happening.

None of the title companies will accept it.

Nick Bowers, New York

Vermont just adopted emergency remote notarization today.

John C. Thrasher, Vermont

I don't do any real estate, but remotely notarized an EEOC charge today.

Richard Young

We just got temporary approval to use remote notaries here in WA due to our lockdown today over the Covid-19 virus.

AnnMichelle G Hart, Washington

I have not independently verified this, so take it with a grain of salt, but….

I was on a conference call yesterday for the California Lawyers Association (our statewide voluntary association, after the “mandatory” and “voluntary” parts of the Bar were separated). Someone on the call asked about notarizations during this period of social distancing. One of the other participants said that she had spoken to someone in the Secretary of State’s office (the SoS regulates notaries in California). She was told that (a) California still does not allow remote notarization, but (b) a document properly notarized (remotely) by a notary in a state that does allow remote notarization should be sufficient for California purposes. 

Brian H. Cole, California

Florida changed its notary statute last year to include pretty extensive provisions for remote online notarization, which requires a special education/certification of the Florida notary (who must already be a notary) and video and recording software.

Even though the law became effective just on January 1, 2020, there appear to be quite a number of remote online notaries who are authorized in Florida, though no one I actually know.



Cynthia V. Hall, Florida

Hawaii just authorized remote notarizations for the duration of the state stay-at-home order.

Naomi C. Fujimoto, Hawaii

Georgia has similarly authorized remote notarizations although I am not sure how that will work.

John Martin Miles, Georgia

One attorney's use of remote notaries in Florida was one of many topics discussed on Adriana Linares' March podcast "Going Remote During COVID-19:

Tips and Tools for At-Home Legal Practice"


Hope this helps.

Dave Rakowski

Kentucky legislature just passed an emergency measure allowing remote notarization. Our local bar associations contacted our supreme court who worked with the Secretary of State to get a law in place asap. The issue that instigated the urgency was wills and the inability for witnesses to get into hospitals etc.... as long as it is on video and all happens simultaneously the fact that everyone’s signature is in a different piece of paper is addressed as ok.

Micah G. Guilfoil Payne, Kentucky

Glad to see this.... hoping more states follow suit.

Laurie Axinn Gienapp

Utility to Deskew/Rotate a Graphic File or PDF?

One of the handiest things about CamScanner, an app for Android, is that when you photograph a document it pops up with some lines and corners that allow you to crop and deskew it, so that it winds up looking almost as good as something run through a regular scanner.

Most people, though, do not have CamScanner, and often clients will send me a crummy looking photo of a document that could dearly use some cleaning up. Now, I *do* have the option of copying it to the appropriate folder on my phone, so that I can process it using CamScanner, but that's fairly awkward. Is there any similar utility to work with these sorts of files I should know about? Thanks.

https://www.ilovepdf.com/ does a lot merge, rotate, etc.

I recommend clients try the Adobe Scan App on their phones - they can snap a picture of a document but save as an Adobe pdf. - multiple page pdfs too. (no more .jpg documents)

Works for me @ court etc. when there's no copier nearby.

Janet Silver Rosen

If it's a picture of a document, if you recognize text using Acrobat it will automatically deskew.

David Masters, Colorado

No, it won't. It will *straighten* the document. What I'm talking about is that most pictures of documents done with a regular camera come out as a trapezoid shape. Using CamScanner, it will select the corners of the document (which may be manually re-positioned) and flatten it back into a proper rectangle. I would like to find a utility that could take a picture, select the corners, and resize and deskew to where it is back to 8.5" x 11". That is, correcting for imperfect photographs on the z axis. And clear up contrast and varying light as well. The recommendation for "ilovepdf.com" is nice, but Acrobat Pro can do all of that. What Acrobat Pro cannot do is resize the document to correct for photographic flaws - unless there is some feature I am missing.

Michael A. Koenecke, Texas

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:


I'd like to find a desktop utility to turn that into a decent looking scan.

Michael A. Koenecke

You could deskew and crop the document using the Perspective Crop Tool in Photoshop (and even color correct it so that it looks white), but Photoshop is expensive software with a definite learning curve. I suspect there are less expensive image editing programs out there if you want to look. You could do an Internet search using search terms such as "image editing" and "perspective correction."

Bert Krages, Oregon

I just checked on software called Picture Window. I thought the company had gone out of business but found out that you can download the software for free on its website <https://www.dl-c.com/Products.html>. 

To do the perspective correction and cropping, use the "warp" feature by going to Transformation > Geometry > Warp. It is actually easy to use. 

There will be four tabs and you put one on each corner and then click on apply. Afterwards, you can go to Transformation > Color > Balance to correct the color.

Bert Krages

I don't know if Adobe Acrobat DC does this, but I'd suggest you check out the Android version of Adobe Scan. You can also re-shape the document to correct for the trapezoid shape caused by taking the photo off-vertical.

Tim Ackermann, Texas

Will Signing in a Senior Citizen Home

This is a new one for me (and probably everyone else). Client wants a will.

Easy. Except she lives in a senior citizen home that is currently closed to visitors. How on earth did I get this thing notarized?

The way I have always done it: ask for the names and addresses of a couple of witnesses ahead of time, to print them on the will. Conduct the signing, acting as notary.

Anticipating the objections, which have shown up regularly for the past few decades: yes, if you act as notary to a will signing, you will be a witness in the event of a will contest. That being said, as the drafting attorney you will be a witness *anyway*. The only down side to acting as notary to will signings is that there will be one less independent witness (i.e., instead of drafting attorney + notary + witnesses = 4, it will be drafting attorney/notary + witnesses = 3). I have yet to experience a will signing where that is even remotely likely to be an issue. However, if it *is* likely (the fairly rare case where there is an abnormal disposition of the estate + high likelihood of a will contest), sure, get an independent notary and consider videotaping the whole signing. But that is an exceedingly rare case.

Michael Koenecke, Texas

Call the center and see if they have a notary in house

Or what their current procedure is to get these important documents executed.

Also see if your state allows video notary

Erin M. Schmidt, Ohio

Someone on another listserv recommended having the notary (and witnesses) stand outside a window and witness the signing.

Marshall D. Chriswell, Pennsylvania

Sorry, that does not comply with the PA requirement that everyone be "in the presence" of the testator and each other as far as the witnesses are concerned. PA does have a statute permitting the attorney, if present and one of the witnesses, to then go to a notary who takes the acknowledgment of the witnessing attorney.

Miriam N. Jacobson, Pennsylvania

In Georgia, if you know the signature of the people whose signatures you are witnessing, you do not have to see them sign the document. I suggest having the lawyer take two witnesses from his office, have the testator sign the will after you have had a telephone conversation with him (her) to review the will, then lawyer and witnesses observe the testator sign the will through a glass door, have the witnesses sign and the lawyer act as notary outside the door so the testator can see the execution. Viola.

Robert "Robby" W. Hughes, Jr., Georgia

Just saw a local news story about a grand kid visiting his grandmother at a closed window. Saw each other, close to each other, spoke to phone. 

Maybe have witness and notary outside, listen on phone. 

Phil A. Taylor

I am interested about "in the presence". Here in Georgia, there is a "line of sight" rule. The witnesses must be able to see the testator sign (or the testator tell the witnesses he earlier signed and is reaffirming now) and the testator must be able to see the witnesses sign. No rule about same room, etc. Just be able to see. Not aware of that rule being tested as Vinny Gambino tested the little, old lady witness in My Cousin Vinny. That said, if you can see each other, you are free to sign and witness.

Robert "Robby" W. Hughes, Jr.

I wonder if there is a provision in PA law for emergency situations where close contact or even being in the same room with the testator is impossible due to health concerns. You wouldn't need a pandemic (thankfully) to imagine a situation where that might have occurred in the past. It might be worth a bit of research. 

Matthew J. Norris, California

Do you have to have it notarized?

Understand, I much, much, prefer to have wills notarized; in Florida we have self-proving affidavit; TX and Witnesses sign will, I then ask, Testator, and Wit 1 and Wit 2, do you swear or affirm that you, TX did sign your will and Wt 1 and Wit 2, that you did sign TX will as Witnesses, and that you all did sign in the presence of each other, everybody please say Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. then they sign again, and it is notarized. It makes it easier to get it admitted.

Having said that: In a pinch I will not have it notarized; all that is required in Florida is testator signing will at the end and two witnesses signing in TX presence. I'll do this in an emergency, an emergency typically being where the person is dying and I can't get notary or independent witnesses. 

I occasionally get blowback from other attorneys when they see this but screw them. There is NO requirement under Florida law that a will be notarized; yeah, yeah, it's better practice but I'd rather get signature of TX and witness on a will then go intestate. I'll testify if need be. 

So, can you get TX and two witnesses to sign it? Any way you can supervise via video or thru a window and a cellphone? just to make sure that TX and Witnesses are all in the same room at the same time? Get the wet ink signatures on the will. 

Ronald A Jones, Florida

Sorry, I just read more carefully and realized that it isn't Pennsylvania, but California where this is happening, if I understood correctly. So there could be a holographic will, avoiding the witness requirement, or the harmless error doctrine might apply to the will. That is, if there is no case law construing a situation where being in the same room with the testator is not feasible because of health concerns (which might merit some research). 

Matthew J. Norris

To add to the chorus, are you _sure_ a notarization is required for the will to be valid in California? In most states it isn't, and a quick search by me, not a CA lawyer, of some CA lawyer postings seem to indicate that a notarization isn't statutorily required. So, take that with a grain of salt, but I'd check the statute. For the states I've practiced in, the notary is for the (optional) self-proving affidavit, not the will itself.

You can provide the Will to her, with written instructions on how to execute it, and charge her with getting some witnesses/neighbors and executing it. Then, when this issue clears up, I'd volunteer to either do the self-proving affidavit with the testator/witnesses, or re-execute the whole thing in your office.

If notarization is required, then does your state allow remote online notarization with video service? Does the facility have a notary? They are usually loathe to do this type of thing, but may make an exception under the circumstances.

I prefer to supervise the execution myself and execute with a self-proving affidavit (and usually I'm the notary), but that isn't always feasible. A good but not perfect solution is better than no solution.

Cynthia V. Hall, Florida

Our "in the presence" rule is "sight and hearing." I would imagine you could open the window, or have a phone link while you watched through the window...

Richard J. Rutledge, Jr., North Carolina

The only will contest I've actually litigated, the notary was a lousy witness. I was able to tear her apart because, as a notary who notarizes most of my own wills, I "knew the drill." Whether you do it yourself or have another notarize, make sure that when a notary signs off on a certificate that says, "First being duly sworn..." they actually do a formal swearing and oath... In that case, the notary (a paralegal, no less) testified that she, in fact, never spoke a word during the whole will execution, just signed and stamped.

If you need a notary, or you use one as "best practice," make sure that they're actually following best practices.

Richard J. Rutledge, Jr.

California allows online and remote notarization. Here's one company, but there are many. Online Notary https://www.docverify.com/Products/E-Notaries/Electronic-Notary-and-Remote-Notary-Platform/Electronic-Notary-California

Scott I. Barer, California

You are right. Notaries make horrible witnesses. Most never check driver's licenses. Most do not swear a witness in before signing. 

Robert "Robby" W. Hughes, Jr.

That is the advantage of the attorney acting as the notary: when I conduct a will signing, I always inform the testator(s) and witnesses beforehand that their signatures serve not only to witness the signings but as an affidavit. I use a standard template, going through various questions (see "Will Signing Ceremony Forms" at https://koeneckelaw.com/public/), and make sure to swear the testator(s) and the witnesses in properly. And of course, I save an electronic copy of the signing ceremony in my records, as well as the notary book page.

Witnesses always find it terribly amusing when asked if the testator is of "sound mind." I caution them ahead of time that, if they were called into court after the person had died, and the judge asked them "Was Mr. 

Doe of sound mind when he signed his will?", they probably would not find it appropriate to burst out laughing, so please consider that and answer accordingly. When using friends as witnesses, it is always a problem.

Michael A. Koenecke

Not mentioned is that in Texas we always ask if each witness is age 14 or over. That always gets chuckles.

My practice is to have testators initial each page and I have everyone sign in blue ink and the notary seal is green if using a rubber stamp.

After making copies, I affix with high quality, engraved, 'will' covers which have 'Last Will & Testament' printed on the outside, along with my name and location. For any powers of attorney, I use Southworth, 25% cotton-fiber, red-lined, water-marked paper and blue manuscript covers.

If you want to get fancy you can punch a hole in the upper left and thread colored-ribbon. UK wills I have seen have that. Also, you can use gold seal paper and emboss with an old-fashioned seal instead of using a rubber stamp.

Rob Robertson, Texas

Actually, that prompts Story Number Two, which I also customarily relate at will signings:

I was once in court, proving up a will (not one I drafted), where the self-proving affidavit said that "the testator and the witnesses are all over age 18." The judge said to me: "Mr. Koenecke, the self-proving affidavit does not state that the witnesses were over age 14." I replied, "Your Honor, it says they were over 18; logically speaking, if they were over age 18, they were clearly over age 14." He replied: "I know that as well as you do. But that's not the language of the statute."

And so the judge rejected the SPA and required me to get a witness to prove up the will.

Yes, it was pretty ridiculous. But it's a good story to tell to emphasize why we make a point about adhering to the statutory requirements. Right there with you when it comes to making sure the original will is distinguishable from copies.

Michael A. Koenecke

Some states allow online notarization - witnesses can be other residents (as long as will is not being recorded in property records). The process is videotaped by online notary. We used to use VA online notaries until TX allowed it - other states can be used.

One of my colleagues makes everyone do a holographic will at her will seminars ,- that way if something happens, they are not intestate. may consider this as a base option for now.

Murtaza Sutarwalla, Texas

I just did a signing at a Nursing Home, I spoke to them in advance, I did not have a mask,(which they wanted, as they did not have extras) but did have gloves, my notary and I wore bandanas as a mask and joked about being robbers, my client and spouse, my notary and I all only went to the room.

I left the Health Care Directive for the Ombudsman, asked for the POLST to be completed by the Doctor, but asked the nurse for one to go over with my client I recorded their answers and left it for the doctor (knowing the Nursing Home doctor will most likely just sign it), went okay.

Martha Jo Patterson, California

This reminds me, I still need to fix the audio on this...


Richard J. Rutledge, Jr.,

The ombudsman is only required for Health Care Directives.

Martha Jo Patterson