In the late ‘80s, General Motors (GM) started a marketing campaign for their Oldsmobile automobile brand where they stated “this is not your father’s Oldsmobile” to show how the cars had been updated for current times. It’s hard to believe, but document review platforms have been around for more than a generation now, with the earliest ones having been used on desktops and within local area networks as far back as the ‘80s and ‘90s!
Back then, the workflows for document reviews for many lawyers conducting discovery were pretty standard once the data was loaded into the review platform. Someone (usually the litigation support manager) performed searches to cull the collection to a subset of potentially relevant documents and then one or more reviewers conducted linear review to “tag” documents as relevant and/or privileged, then (once the production set was approved) that same “someone” collected the images, text and metadata to produce to opposing counsel. It didn’t matter what case you were working on or how many documents you had, the workflows were basically the same and were very manual.
Document review today is no longer your father’s document review anymore. For several reasons, review workflows today have had to be customized to support changing requirements for companies today. Here are three factors that have forced document review to evolve to support today’s discovery needs:
- Growth of Big Data:It’s been widely recognized for years now that data has been doubling in the world at least every 1.2 years. So, the culled data set of 300,000 documents that you had to review twelve years ago in a large case could be as much as 3,000,000 documents today using the same workflow. Are you ten times faster in reviewing documents? Of course not! That’s why it’s important to be able to apply advanced technology workflows using Technology Assisted Review (TAR) technologies and approached when needed to keep the review process manageable.
- Rise of Investigations and Compliance Needs: Document reviews used to be conducted primarily to support litigation. Not anymore. Investigators much more routinely conduct document reviews as part of internal investigations and the workflows are dramatically different than they are for litigation. And the ever-evolving data privacy landscape with new laws to protect individual privacy, such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) has created entirely new document review workflows that didn’t even exist years ago, such as those to support Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs). Document review workflows have had to evolve to support many more discovery needs than they did in years past.
- Remote Review Rules: Alliteration aside, this is the “elephant in the room” for 2020. But, it’s not “in the room” because of social distancing (get it?). Traditionally, large scale reviews were conducted in centralized review facilities, but the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly accelerated the redefinition of where reviews are conducted, at least for now. Because of that, there are new considerations for managing the reviewers that didn’t exist when everyone was located in a centralized location, including tracking/reporting of reviewers time and throughput and also cybersecurity protection at a different level than was required centrally. Scenarios like this and others have continued to force document review workflows to change to support the changing circumstances in which reviewers work.
These are just three of the factors that have forced document review workflows to evolve and change over time. Even within litigation, document review workflows vary depending on the type of the case in terms of types of documents being reviewed or who is reviewing them. For example, a contract dispute between two parties might involve a single outside counsel firm conducting review while a class action product liability case could involve firms conducting review across the country. It’s to the point that document review workflows are like snowflakes – no two workflows are alike.
Document review today is a managed review process which must be customized to the goals to be accomplished during discovery and the document collection to be reviewed. It requires expertise in streamlining workflows to maximize the efficiency of the team conducting the review. Hopefully, you can evolve your document review process to a more managed and efficient review process to support today’s needs better than GM evolved the Oldsmobile to support its customer base – sadly, the Oldsmobile was officially retired in 2004!
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