Document review is a well-known phase of the litigation and legal process. In order to come to the truth in dispute resolution, parties are permitted to request relevant documents. In order to meet requirements pertaining to the request, the producing party must comb through collected data - and nowadays these files often come in electronic form and can be particularly unorganized. Email PSTs are commonly asked for in subpoenas and in the case that specific actors have not deleted email over long periods and built up heaps of data, the strain on document reviewers can grow particularly burdensome, leading to higher data hosting fees and longer hours for which reviewers need to be assigned for each project.
What is the purpose of document review? Why do we review documents?
The purpose of document review is for attorneys to meet their legal obligations when the opposing party requests relevant documents to litigation. eDiscovery has a standard accepted process outlined by the EDRM. While careful consideration should be taken at every stage, the bulk of the work and costs are typically associated with reviewing individual documents and the review phase specifically.
Obligations outlined in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure inform attorneys that all relevant documents must be produced, but some relevant documents may be withheld if protected by some form of privilege. Once all the data is ingested into an eDiscovery tool the review attorney can use early case assessment to comb the data and prepare for the meet and confer conference. This conference is an opportunity for parties to convene and discuss ESI protocol, eDiscovery related law, and nail down the scope of the investigation which may inform certain filter criteria.
Who reviews documents? What is a document review job?
Doc review should be overseen at a high level by the attorney but can often be managed more closely by litigation support professionals and paralegals. The role of a document reviewer is to operate eDiscovery software and utilize its sorting, search, filtering, and batching capabilities to help attorneys meet their requirements for document discovery and production. A more senior paralegal or litigation support professional with experience will likely see their role expand beyond just the review phase to managing document collection as well as processing, organization, production export, and delivery. There are many important considerations during a review project. Exact workflows vary based on the case at hand and individual preferences, but there are several considerations and goals consistent across most review projects.
What does it mean to review a document?
Review the document for Relevance / Responsiveness - Determine if a review document is relevant to the case at hand. This definition of relevance is determined and agreed upon by both parties. To accelerate the search for responsive documents, review attorneys often create keyword lists and use other filtering techniques to narrow down the selection. When creating and negotiating keyword lists amongst other criteria, we highly recommend testing your assumptions on real data. Document review tools include a "tagging" or "marking" functionality. Each document should be assigned one mark which represents its level of responsiveness.
Privileged documents and information may be withheld from production, and eDiscovery tools have specific mechanisms to facilitate meeting legal obligations for declaring privilege on individual documents. If a document is determined to be privileged, a privilege type mark can be applied to it and the tool will encourage or require the document reviewer to fill out a corresponding privilege log entry for that file.
Confidentiality - Protective Order agreement, redactions, etc
Federal rules of evidence 502(d) allows parties to enter into a clawback agreement by which either side can return privileged documents that were produced inadvertently. Reviewing for confidentiality is paramount when dealing with valuable client data. Attorney's eyes only is a common designation that can be applied alongside a produce type mark to signal confidentiality to the other side. Specific allowable protective order designations should be agreed upon prior to beginning the review phase. Redactions are also available to reviewers in an eDiscovery tool to cover confidential information such as social security numbers or other private content.
Review capabilities can be expanded or limited by the software. For example instead of reviewing documents one at a time, filtering and keyword searching will speed up the process of finding the most relevant documents. Ultimately document review tools allow users to get to the heart of their matter more quickly. Document review attorneys have their work cut out for them. Accelerate document reviews using Just, Speedy and Inexpensive eDiscovery software. Schedule a demo with Digital WarRoom today using our calendar link in the header or contact us at email@example.com.