Managed Review - What you Need to Know

Dan Cohen, Director of Business Development, Sandline Discovery
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Dan Cohen, Director of Business Development, Sandline Discovery

Dan Cohen, Director of Business Development, Sandline Discovery

In the evolving world of eDiscovery, there is a lot of hype around advancements like artificial intelligence (AI) and technology-assisted review (TAR) that are changing how documents are reviewed. Advancements in the attorney review process, however, generally garner less fanfare, even though managed review companies are revolutionizing the eDiscovery game in ways that have an even greater impact on quality and efficiency. Perhaps more than any specific technology, managed review allows firms to simplify discovery and devote more time to focus on case strategy.

In a managed document review, an experienced outside firm or vendor oversees every stage of a document review on behalf of a party engaged in litigation or otherwise obligated to produce documents. Managed document review goes beyond simply staffing a review with contract attorneys through an outside agency. With managed review, the day-to-day details of the document review are handled by experts whose sole job is to design and implement workflows that meet timeline and budget needs, provide quality control, and ensure that legal obligations are met. 

Benefits of Managed Review

While turning document review over to a managed review team may initially seem like an expensive proposition, it leads to significant cost savings in the long run. By consolidating all the administrative aspects of a review project into a single integrated role performed by a designated project manager, managed review increases efficiency and reduces unnecessary risk and expense.

  While turning document review over to a managed review team may initially seem like an expensive proposition, it leads to significant cost savings in the long run  ‚Äč

Overseeing document reviews and crafting review strategies is a time-consuming task -- time that lawyers can better spend by focusing on case strategies and practicing law. Managed document review companies exist to focus strictly on the document review aspect of litigation and cultivate the resources necessary to complete it in the most efficient manner possible. Companies that specialize in eDiscovery are well-versed in the latest technological advances, allowing them to devise the best possible workflows in an ever-changing and demanding environment. Having the experts focus on the technology and administration while the attorneys focus on serving their clients leads to significant time and cost savings.

Using a managed review company also allows firms to free up their own internal resources to focus on high-level client work. Managed review teams handle the supervisory and administrative aspects of document review, meaning that firm billable hours aren’t spent on unnecessary work. Law firm attorneys can instead devote their attention to more substantive aspects of the review and other client-facing work that brings in more value to the firm. Managed review takes care of the extra work that comes with document review and performs it by using staff that are specifically trained in those tasks. The managed review team coexists with the case team to provide the best possible combination of services for clients.

How It Actually Works

In a managed document review, an entire review project is overseen by an experienced attorney who designs and implements workflows for every step of the process, from scoping to production. This attorney, also known as a review manager, will then prepare an overall review plan that considers timeline, budget constraints, staffing considerations, technology, potential use of analytics or TAR, batching strategies, privilege considerations, quality control and any other details as requested by the case team.

The review manager will oversee the initial database setup and secure user credentials for everyone who will need to access it. They will devise the delivery of trainings, both for the review software itself and for the particular parameters of the review at hand. This includes collaborating with case teams to prepare review guides and manuals (if they haven’t already been created), tagging systems, lists of case acronyms, lists of counsel for privilege issues, and anything else that’s necessary to create a roadmap for reviewers to work through documents accurately and efficiently. As new issues inevitably arise during the course of a review, these roadmaps and training documents will be revised accordingly. Document review is a fluid process, and experienced managed review companies are adept at rolling with the changes and handling whatever challenges arise.

Depending on the nature of the documents that need to be reviewed, the review team may be made up of a combination of internal law firm attorneys and outsourced attorney reviewers. For a simple, large-scale review, it’s advisable to staff a review with outside contract attorneys or the staff of the managed review company, who will focus on the first-level review. If special expertise is required for particular subjects like scientific or technical matters or foreign language skills, the review manager will find the right reviewers, either internally or through additional resources.

More experienced firm attorneys can be dedicated to higher-level tasks like second-level review, privilege issues or quality control. With the assistance of the case team attorneys who are ultimately responsible for production, the managed review firm will put quality control procedures in place to ensure that the ultimate production is free of errors and meets the client’s legal obligations.

Another important aspect of managed review is monitoring and reporting. Throughout the course of a project, the review manager should monitor review metrics and analytics to assess the progress of the review and the effectiveness of the team and each individual review team member. Statistics are generally reported back to the trial team on a daily or weekly basis or, depending on the review platform used, can sometimes be presented in real time. Monitoring helps keep review on track and adapt it to whatever changes arise.

Throughout the process, the review manager will make sure that the case team is involved and kept apprised of what’s going on. Managed review is not meant to replace the primary case team, but to work alongside them and enhance the process by handling a specific aspect of litigation that can benefit from experienced management and oversight. By leaving the day-to-day management of document review to someone whose sole focus is to make sure that that review goes smoothly, firms can focus on the remaining aspects of a case, knowing that discovery requirements are being met and the final work product is accurate.

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