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Hi Dan and welcome to the RH Forums. The question you should be asking is what functionality is in the X5 help files that you will not be able to do anything with? There have been oodles of changes since RH2002 and you can bet your bottom dollar that the help files you're inheriting will use at least some of them. Even if you were able to open an X5 project you'd be unable to do much. My advice is to upgrade and you won't have this problem.
That is quite a leap in versions. If money is an issue you may want to investigate other ways of working together.
You could 'just' work on topic content (in 2002) and then pass this on to your colleague who can import it into X5. You would just be adding content thougth, without adding any neat features.
Rick (the wizard) does have some tricks up his sleave with backward compatibility, but pretty sure these tricks won't work between 2002 and X5 - sure he will jump in if it is doable.
One more thing Dan, if you need to present justfication. Here is a link to a chart comparing RH 2000 and X5 features.
If you have any more questions, please let us know.