I have just mastered the Bates-numbering function of Adobe 8 Pro. It enables you to Bates-number large quantities of PDF files. Given that most cases are now filed electronically, this makes it that much easier to never see paper in the office. Adobe lets you place a large number of PDFs into one window, reorganize them, then insert a Bates-number into the first page of the first document that then continues throughout the rest of the batch. You can also easily search for documents by Bates number.
Working in a complex international case, I fought for a long time to convince my European counterparts of the wisdom of Bates-numbering. Now that documents number in the thousands, they are convinced of the wisdom!
I don't know how long lawyers have been seriously Bates-numbering documents, but I recently had occasion to review the Nuremberg trial exhibits in the USGPO publication Nazi Conspiracy and Agression (1946). It seems that each international team of prosecutors was using a unique Bates-style system to stamp hundreds of thousands of documents as they were received.
Probably only lawyers could get so worked up about page numbers, but there is nothing worse than collecting useless evidence because you can't tell what a witness was looking at, or fumbling around with mis-numbered or unnumbered pages in a courtroom.
Some Bates-numbering background and history from Wikipedia:
Bates numbering (also known as Bates stamping or Bates coding) is used in the legal, medical, and business fields to place identifying numbers and/or date/time-marks on images and documents as they are scanned or processed (for example, during the discovery stage of preparations for trial or identifying business receipts). Bates Stamping can be used to mark and identify images with copyrights by putting a company name, logo and/or legal copyright on them. This process provides identification, protection, and auto-increment numbering of the images.
Bates numbering is commonly used as an organizational method to label and identify legal documents. During the discovery phase of litigation, a large number of documents might necessitate the use of unique identifiers for each page of each document for reference and retreival. Bates numbering (named for the Bates automatic numbering machine), assigns an arbitrary unique identifier to each page. Such "numbering" may be solely numeric or may contain a combination of letters and numbers (alphanumeric). There is no standard method for numbering documents. Examples of Bates numbers schemes used in tobacco cases may be found here.
Manual Bates stamping uses a self inking stamp with numbered wheels (5, 6, and 7-wheeled models are common) that automatically increment each time the stamp is pressed down on a page (some stamps allow for duplicate documents by only incrementing after two or more presses). Today, preprinted, self-adhesive labels are common as is electronic document discovery (EDD) software that can electronically "stamp" documents stored as computer files by superimpsoing numbers onto them.
The Bates Automatic Numbering Machine was patented in 1891-93 by the Bates Manufacturing Company of Edison, NJ.
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