Much of the workforce has been forced into remote work due to social distancing requirements because of the pandemic, and that includes the workforce conducting services related to electronic discovery. Many providers have been forced into remote work for services including collection and review. Other providers have been already conducting those services remotely for years, so they were well prepared to continue to provide those services remotely during the pandemic.
Make no mistake, it’s important to select a review provider that has considerable experience conducting remote reviews which extends well before the pandemic. Not all providers have that level of experience. But the success of your reviews isn’t about location, location, location; it’s about process, process, process — and the ability to manage the review effectively regardless of where it’s conducted. Here are four best practices to make your document reviews more efficient and cost effective, regardless of where they’re conducted:
- Maximize culling and filtering techniques up front: Successful reviews begin with identifying the documents that shouldn’t be reviewed in the first place and removing them from the document collection before starting review. Techniques for culling the document collection include de-duplication and de-nisting and identification of irrelevant domains. But it’s also important to craft a search that maximizes the balance between recall and precision to exclude thousands of additional documents that might otherwise be needlessly reviewed, saving time and money during document review.
- Combine subject matter and best practice expertise: Counsel understands the issues associated with the case, but they often don’t understand how to implement sophisticated discovery workflows that incorporate the latest technological approaches (such as linguistic search) to maximize efficiency. It’s important to select the provider that knows the right questions to ask to combine subject matter expertise with eDiscovery best practices to ensure an efficient and cost-effective review process. It’s also important to continue to communicate and adjust workflows during the case as you learn more about the document collection and how it relates to the issues of the case.
- Conduct search and review iteratively: Many people think of eDiscovery document review as a linear process, but the most effective reviews today are those that implement an iterative process that that interweave search and review to continue to refine the review corpus. The use of AI algorithms and expert-designed linguistic models to test, measure and refine searches is important to achieve a high accuracy rate during review, so remember the mantra of “test, measure, refine, repeat” for search and review to maximize the quality of your search and review process.
- Consider producing iteratively, as well: Discovery is a deadline driven process, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait for the deadline to provide your entire production to opposing counsel. Rolling productions are common today to enable producing parties to meet their discovery obligations over time, establishing goodwill with opposing counsel and demonstrating to the court that you have been meeting your obligations in good faith along the way if disputes occur. Include discussion of rolling productions in your Rule 26(f) meet and confer with opposing counsel to enable you to manage the production more effectively over the life of the project.
You’re probably familiar with the famous quote from The Art of War by Sun Tzu that “every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought,” which emphasizes the importance of preparation before proceeding with the task or process you plan to perform. Regardless where your review is being conducted, it’s not the location, location, location that will determine the success of your review, but the process, process, process. After all, it’s called “managed review” for a reason!