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Posted on: April 21, 2016

in Blog

The Development of Document Review: Why Lawyers Continuously Need to Adapt

In the last five years document review technology has undergone significant growth and development. For some that has meant that review platforms have added “bells and whistles” that add little value or have real world application. For others, the introduction of technologies like, email threading, concept search, clustering and data visualization have changed not just how they review documents, but how they identify the documents included in that review. Add the changes in technology and the rapid expansion of data volumes, case teams are left wondering how to make sense of it all and are scrambling to keep their heads above water.

There is still a real resistance to applying the new methods to a repository of several million documents. Many simply continue to rely on the time-tested practice of applying search terms and promoting the hits to be reviewed by an army of contractors. It is what they know, and in this approach the attorneys and review leads remain the experts. Even for those willing to tryout the newest approaches, there are still many concerns. They are ceding power and expertise to a either vendor or litigation support professional who may or may not have a full understanding of analytics. This leads to concerns about whether the hosting provider can appropriately administer the database to ensure that analytics doesn’t jeopardize the review specifically and the case in general. Still, there is no denying that analytics has taken a hold on the market, and its adoption rates continue to grow month by month. The success stories are plentiful.

By taking 24-48 hours before the review to dive into the data and understand what you have, you can craft a review strategy tailored to your specific case. Who knows, in doing so, maybe you’ll stumble on to the smoking gun and avoid the review altogether.

But what good is this new technology, if the attorney overseeing the review doesn’t understand it and isn’t willing to make the time to learn? We’ve all heard it before, half a million documents to review by a week from Friday. We can start reviewing tomorrow and then figure out where we are when all the data is in the database. This is the way so many reviews start out. It’s a race to the beginning and a slog to the end. In between, there is a winding path strewn with abandoned workflows, multiple iterations of search terms, and an incomplete production that you are waiting on some vendor to rebuild from several different responsiveness tags. Does it have to be this way? 

In today’s average litigation, document review is going to be the most expensive outlay. So why not go into it with a solid review plan? A review plan is going to provide a documented course of action for the life of the review, not just for the right now. Perhaps even more important than a review plan, is a pre-review analysis of the case data. When combined together this pre-review analysis and a well-informed, review plan can make even the most daunting review seem like a reasonable endeavor. By taking 24-48 hours before the review to dive into the data and understand what you have, you can craft a review strategy tailored to your specific case. Who knows, in doing so, maybe you’ll stumble on to the smoking gun and avoid the review altogether.

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