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Five Guidelines For Completing The Best Document Review Project
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Five Guidelines for Completing the Best Document Review Project

With the advancement of technology and increased usage of social media outlets like Facebook and LinkedIn (and there many more), the volume of documents falling into discovery requests has become almost overwhelming. With the number of documents needing to be reviewed reaching hundreds of thousands and even millions, E-Discovery is now the most expensive part of the litigation process.

Until computers completely replace real-life lawyers through processes like “predictive coding” – programming computers to tag documents --, lawyers are needed to sort through the mountains of documents; and this is very costly.

Because of its importance, financially and legally, it is crucial to have document review completed in the most accurate and cost-effective manner. Whether corporate inside counsel is managing the process alone or utilizing an outside law firm or a legal process outsourcing (LPO) provider, there are five important guidelines which will help manage the e-discovery process:

1. Choose the Best Document Review Team

The best document review team consists of the highest quality lawyers at the best price.

When examining cost you are looking at paying a minimum of $300 per hour for a law firm associate – not a legitimate option for most. The cost of a contract lawyer or a document review firm in the U.S. is a minimum $30 per hour. If you choose to manage the document review process internally, you will assume responsibility for hiring and training the contract attorneys. In addition, you will have to provide space, computers and supervisory attorneys. All this costs money. When you add these additional expenses to the proposed wage, your U.S. contract attorney ends up costing considerably more than $30 per hour.

A better option might be to utilize a new approach to legal outsourcing: new LPOs, which employ highly experienced Indian attorneys that are trained and supervised by U.S. attorneys. These new LPOs offer a great option because they provide excellent legal services at significantly lower rates. For example, on document review projects, these new LPOs can offer savings of at least a third of what you pay for U.S. contract attorneys.

2. Verify that a Good Project Manager is in Place

Whichever method you choose to complete the document review part of the litigation process, it is imperative to have a good project manager in place.

If you are completing the e-discovery in-house by hiring U.S. contract attorneys as document reviewers, then choose an attorney who has done document review but who is also an experienced manager of staff and can facilitate the completion of the project successfully.

If you choose to outsource to a LPO, then you must verify excellent project managers on both ends – internally and at the LPO. This is extremely important to insure that the work is completed accurately and promptly. For the document review job to be finished properly, the intricacies of the case must be understood by your manager and relayed to the LPO’s manager, who is then responsible for training and supervising the attorneys. If there is a breakdown in relations, the work product will reflect it.

If you are considering outsourcing to India, this step reflects the importance of these new LPOs, which employ U.S. attorneys in addition to Indian attorneys. The U.S. attorneys may service as the project managers and can help guarantee accuracy and quality.

3. Develop and Implement the Training Program

Whether you intend on doing the document review internally or externally through a LPO, develop the training program yourself. You want the analysis of every document conducted consistently and thoroughly; therefore, you must train each lawyer to examine each document in a similar manner.

The way to accomplish this is to design a comprehensive training program that is given directly to the U.S. contract lawyers if you are doing the review internally or to the LPO project managers if completing the review through an LPO. These project managers will then transmit this training to its lawyers.

As a U.S. lawyer that has completed numerous document review projects, the most important feature of the training is the “Tip Sheet” or “Review Guidelines Sheet” that should be distributed at the end of training. This sheet (whatever name you want to give it) is essentially the entire training boiled down to one sheet of guidelines on how to analyze and tag documents. This sheet is the reviewer’s “bible”. This sheet is how you implement accurate and consistent tagging between reviewers.

And during the review process, this sheet must be updated regularly.

4. Create a Free Exchange Between Reviewers

Contrary to the atmosphere in many document review projects completed by legal service providers in the U.S. and abroad, it is crucial to create a comfortable, open and relaxed environment where attorneys can discuss how they are examining and tagging documents. Attorneys need to be able to ask each other and their supervisors how to tag certain documents. They also need to share with their managers and colleagues any revelations that they may have .

Through this free exchange, consistency and accuracy are enhanced.

5. Develop Strict QA (Quality Assurance) Procedures

No matter who does the document review – Licensed U.S. attorneys, graduates of U.S. law schools, Indian attorneys or a computer -- mistakes occur. The important task of the manager of the e-discovery phase of the litigation process is to minimize the errors through quality control or quality assurance.

Quality control usually entails a senior attorney or manager or a team of attorneys re-reviewing a sampling of documents already tagged by the lawyers hired to do the project. Normally, reviewers make similar mistakes that can be easily identified and corrected.

If mistakes are being be made by one or two reviewers, then quality assurance procedures should identify their errors and these reviewers should be replaced.

One of the unique advantages of the new LPOs mentioned earlier is the type of quality control procedures that are inherent in the business model. Since the very structure of the business is to have U.S. attorneys training and supervising the Indian attorneys, quality assurance is already part of the process. When you implement additional QA measures as part of a project, you can be guaranteed superior quality and consistency in the document review work product.

Conclusion

With the size of e-discovery today – both in size and in budget – is crucial to choose the best method to complete your document review project. You must weigh price versus quality and evaluate all options. It is important to consider innovative solutions that may be able to offer you excellent legal services at the most competitive price.


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