Articles From the Team
The Interim team at BCL Legal supplies teams (big and small) of qualified lawyers and paralegals to law firms and Legal Process Outsourcing companies in London, Birmingham and Bristol.
Those working in document review will understand the process and what is entailed but to many this is an area that is alien to them; it isn’t taught at law school and is kept relatively separate from fee earners outside of litigation.
Document review lawyers and paralegals tend to be engaged on a temporary basis and can typically earn between £15 and £40 per hour. Assignments vary in duration and can be for as short a period as a week right up to several years depending on the size and complexity of the case.
So what is document review?
Document review is often the most labour-intensive and expensive stage of the litigation process. During this phase, each page of data in a collection is reviewed and analysed – automatically through technological means and manually through lawyers and paralegals – to determine what documents must be withheld from production to the other side.
Often document reviewers are qualified lawyers who understand the legal and factual issues in the litigation and are able to make the necessary judgment calls as to privilege and responsiveness. To minimize cost, teams of interim lawyers and/or paralegals are often employed.
The review process often consists of several stages. The legal team may conduct a first review in order to analyse documents for relevance and code or mark them for relevant subject matter. Litigation support professionals then load the coded data into a searchable database that allows litigation teams to easily locate key documents at every phase of the litigation process.
Once the information is processed, the legal team conducts a second, more detailed review to determine what documents should be withheld from production. Documents may be withheld for several reasons, including:
Relevance – Is the information relevant to the issues in the case? If it is irrelevant to the facts and issues of the claim or investigation, it need not be produced to opposing parties.
Responsiveness – Is the information responsive to the discovery requests of the opposing parties or the investigatory requests of regulatory bodies? If so, to which request for production is the information responsive?
Document reviewers might also tag “hot” documents - those which contain crucial information to the case and are particularly responsive - during the document review stage.
Privilege – Is the information subject to solicitor-client privilege? If so, it is also withheld from production.
Confidentiality – If the document is confidential, it must be excluded from production. The reviewers will analyse the documents to determine if they contain confidential information. If they do, the reviewer will determine whether certain portions of those document should be redacted to protect the client’s confidential work product or whether the document should be excluded from production altogether.
As part of the document review process, the review team may identify documents which should be wholly or partially redacted or marked as confidential to protect the contents of those documents from disclosure.
The team may also prepare privilege and/or redaction logs to track such information.
Through culling, keyword search, first review and other techniques to narrow the volume of the dataset, the documents ultimately reviewed by the legal team usually represent only a small fraction of the original collection. To further reduce expense, a growing number of technologies that automate the review process are streaming to market.