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5 First-Time Review Mistakes & How to Fix Them

| Written by Imogen Fraser-Clark


Completing your first document review can be a daunting process and is often something you never have to think about until you find yourself in the middle of one. As such, some classic mistakes are regularly made in first-time review cases that make your life a whole lot more difficult than it needs to be. Luckily, this blog is here to help!

1. An Excess of Keywords:

When it comes to filtering our data for relevancy review, the LAST thing we want is to miss out on that case-winning document because we didn't search the right keywords initially. It's the worst-case scenario and making a comprehensive list of likely keywords before filtering your data is a great way to combat this, however, many newbie reviewers take this to the extreme, supplying lists that are hundreds of keywords long!

Huge numbers of keywords not only puts a lot of pressure on your team in terms of running hundreds of searches prior to review, but it also has the side effect of retaining the majority of your data, instead of whittling it down into a streamlined package that holds only the most relevant information.

A key factor in all litigation processes is proportionality. Submitting hundreds of keywords, resulting in many thousands of documents for review is almost certainly going to result in a disproportionate response.

The Fix - Make use of other analytics tools alongside your keyword searching to help reduce the number of keywords being searched for to only the most likely to return relevant material. If you are working with an experienced eDiscovery provider, they will also have recommendations on which of your proposed keywords will be unlikely to yield relevant material or be able to suggest better words to use in their place. Analytics tools such as clustering are an excellent way of streamlining your whole review process - you can read all about the analytics tools available to you in our handy free eBook!

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2. Not Producing a Review Protocol:

The review protocol is an essential piece of documentation in any document review project. It outlines what criteria a document needs to meet in order to be relevant, the coding options that will be available, and gives background information about the case that your reviewers can use to make privilege and relevancy decisions. Many first-time review organisers have never had to produce such a document before and are unaware of what is expected of them.

The Fix - In this instance, the fix is rather self-explanatory... Produce a review protocol. I understand this is not as simple as it sounds, so here you will find a detailed blog post all about what to include in your review protocol and the level of information you need to include. I hope it helps!


3. Shying Away from Automation:

As we all know, the legal industry is notoriously slow on the uptake of new technology, and our acceptance of automation and AI has not broken with this tradition. To this day there are still manual-hardcopy reviews taking place in law firms across the globe and, aside from some very choice exemptions, this is completely unnecessary.

The Fix - Finding a data processing platform that allows you the best of both worlds is the best way to assuage your fears whilst still maintaining control. Software such as RelativityOne enables reviews to be conducted using AI and active learning for projects that are suited to this process, whilst also fully supporting a more traditional style review if that is what you prefer. You can introduce yourself to elements of automation by using tools such as clustering and email threading, allowing yourself to get comfortable with a more automated process before diving straight into the deep end as it were.

Hiring a reputable eDiscovery service provider is also a great way to be introduced to the available automation without having to worry about understanding everything yourself straight away. For more information about the RelativiyOne platform take a look at our dedicated RelativityOne page!


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4. Managing Data in Disparate Systems:

The vast array of tasks assigned to legal teams: managing litigation, responding to DSARs, monitoring compliance, etc. are often completed on a similarly broad spread of tools and platforms. While I'm sure each platform has its benefits and appropriate specialisations for the jobs at hand, managing all this data on completely different systems can often lead to confusion, mistakes, and general dissatisfaction among your staff.

A key example of this would be when a DSARs case, often handled in a redacting software, goes to court, becoming an eDiscovery case, hosted in completely different software. In this instance, not only would all your DSAR data have to be securely transferred into your discovery hosting platform, risking the potential loss of files, but all actions taken in your redaction software will have to be documented for auditability.

The Fix - This whole process would be much easier if all cases were hosted within an all-encompassing platform that has the capabilities of completing several different types of projects. The RelativityOne platform, as mentioned above, supports all the necessary tools for handling multiple legal projects including redaction tools for DSARs, filtering and clustering tools for the streamlining of data, and Active Learning capabilities for assisted review. The software is also fully auditable.


5. Thinking You have to Do This Alone:

While it is true that you don't need to be an eDiscovery expert to carry out and complete an eDiscovery review, having an expert on board can only ever be positive!

With additional budget cuts and staff shortages due to the pandemic, it is understandable that legal teams are trying to keep as many tasks as possible 'in-house'. However, acquiring the services of an expert practitioner can not only make your whole review process much more efficient and timely, but it can also save you money!

The Fix - If you do not possess the in-house capabilities to host full-scale review projects, or you simply want to be able to ask for second opinions and have access to project support, there is always the option of outsourcing your eDiscovery projects to a third-party provider.

Third-party providers not only have the expertise to prescribe the best tools and methodologies for each case you bring them, but they also have access to the latest technologies in the eDiscovery field, allowing your team to reap the benefits of cutting-edge software without the hefty initial investment. They can also save you time and money by efficiently manipulating your data, streamlining it to provide you with the most relevant pieces, and removing unnecessary information. This subsequently results in a much quicker and more effective review process. If you would like to learn more about how Altlaw handles eDiscovery cases you can have a look at our website here.

So there you have it, the 5 simple solutions to the most commonly encountered review mistakes. Would you combat any of these mistakes differently? I'd love to know!