eDiscovery Document Review: Proactive Procedures Boost Efficiency and Accuracy

Discoverable electronically stored information (ESI) continues to expand dramatically due to its convenience as well as its complexity. As a result, a growing number of organizations today, along with their legal counsel, are seeking creative ways to meet the dynamic demands of legal discovery, including procedures and methodologies that can help foster more efficient and effective document review and production.  

An important step to help streamline the document review process is to start by answering some fundamental questions:

  • Where is the data? Identify where any relevant and responsive data is stored, particularly whether it's located in-house or with outside providers (e.g., the “cloud”). Consider stored data areas that are often missed, such as data from decommissioned systems, contractors, home/virtual office, etc.

  • How quickly can you access data? Develop technical and functional procedures with your IT group or any outside providers that store your electronic information. This should include how you'll notify them of the information you may need, how and when you can access the pertinent data and how you can safely store it. Keep in mind — your procedure should be repeatable for future discovery requests as well as defensible in court and memorialized with any third party.

  • Do you need to enlist help? To handle a large discovery request, an organization should first determine if it has the capacity and capabilities to work the document review in-house – or if outside resources are required. External providers can help reduce the cost of discovery by providing trained staff, facilities, equipment, and expertise. Look for an organization that offers managed eDiscovery solutions that can be tailored to your law firm's or company's needs.

Here are some tips for choosing and working effectively with an eDiscovery service provider:

  • Canvas key stakeholders within your organization to identify your existing capacity and the specific skills you may require from an external source. Then evaluate service providers to determine if they have the expertise required as well as the project management style best suited to your company's needs.

  • As you establish the document review team, decide if an internal staff member has the capabilities to serve as project manager. Someone who thoroughly understands the case at hand and possesses strong project management skills needs to guide the team to deliver the stated project results, on time and within budget. If not, work with your third-party provider to identify a qualified resource.

  • Establish confidentiality and data security safeguards by requiring any external reviewers involved to sign confidentiality agreements. Also, eliminate any potential risks that would enable reviewers to have unauthorized or inappropriate access to the review set.

  • If you’ve enlisted an outside provider to fully manage the document review engagement, you or a staff member should monitor the process, checking in with the provider and the review team on a regular basis. Monitoring can be accomplished through a variety of standard or customized reports.

  • Establish a metric-driven review workflow that: 

    • Segregates reviewers based on level and skill sets;

    • Segregates batches based on pre-determined criteria to expedite the review and drive quality;

    • Addresses exceptions and special handling requirements effectively.

    Additionally, maintain an executive dashboard that enables identification, isolation, escalation, and remediation of key issues relevant to the case.

    For more information on managing the eDiscovery process effectively, read Robert Half Legal's "Setting up eDiscovery and Litigation Consulting Teams for Success."