By: Kevin L. Nichols
The Analysis stage of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) occurs throughout the entire model. Different times require actions, and there are different roles and responsibilities for three professionals involved throughout: the Litigation Support Professional, the Litigation Paralegal, and the Litigation Attorney. Together, they will insure that the data collected is culled properly, reviewed, and produced to the opposing side. Validation and quality controlling (QC’ing) are essential to produce the appropriate results which will ultimately lead to admissible evidence at trial. Because the analysis stage can span the entire model, this discussion will be limited to the data assessment phase regarding review. There are certain “best practices” that each litigation professional should have at their disposal to access when necessary and this document will assist them in this endeavor.
Litigation Support Professional (LSP):
Since the LSPs oversee the data processing and review phases, analyzing and QC’ing data falls right in their laps as well. Removing unwanted and unneeded data increases the productivity of the document review team exponentially. Much of the analysis can be performed in conjunction with the vendor because it has a duty to QC the project before turning it over to the law firm. LSPs are typically responsible for or should be responsible for the following during this phase:
Working with the vendor to correct any errors and problems with the data that may impact the document review, for example, spreadsheets may be truncated, the time zone may be incorrect, or there may be incorrect images linked to native formatted documents, etc.;
Create and maintain relevant documentation such as data maps, custodian interviews, and a detailed gap analysis;
Insuring that all data fields containing metadata are accurate, have been de-duped appropriately, and that all parent/child relationships are in tact;
Maintaining a log of all errors and problems just in case these exceptions have to be disclosed to the other side and or to the court;
Acting as the liaison between the vendor and the document review team.
Although this list is not exhaustive, the role of the LSP is essential while allowing the document review team to focus on more substantive analysis of the data set for production and admissible evidence at trial.
Paralegals’ role during the analysis stage picks up where the LSPs’ role leaves off. The paralegal should be the gate keeper of the sheer volume of the data set and disseminating the review sets for the document review team. They should utilize the Early Case Assessment (ECA) and review platform software solutions to identify which documents are responsive and non-responsive and manage the production based upon same. Paralegals should do the following during this phase:
Analyze the data to make sure that all documents are searchable and can be organized appropriately in preparation for review;
Upload the issue code list provided by the attorneys to appropriately categorize and flag documents during a substantive review;
Prepare reports and generate relevant work product such as chronologies, summaries, etc. based on this analysis for attorney review; and
Make sure that the attorneys have the analytics that they need to accurately respond to document requests and to utilize the data that they have acquired to defend their client and win the case.
Paralegals are often “the glue” when it comes to the production and analysis of documents. They effectively manage the review team by providing them with what they need, when they need it, while working out technical problems with LSPs.