Finding the Right Managed Review Solution for Any Matter

By: Cat Casey

Law firms and corporations have a review problem. The approach of cramming reviewers into a room and letting them plow through every document hoping to find a handful of hot documents is becoming cost-prohibitive and untenable due to increasing data volumes and complexity.

What is a practitioner to do?

AI-powered managed review is fundamentally changing ediscovery and addressing this data problem head on. In this context, managed review refers to an organization engaging an external firm for the document review portion of an ediscovery matter, including housing the data and providing project manager(s) and reviewers. There are several types of managed review models currently in the market outlined in greater detail below.

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Picking the right flavor of managed review for your matter

As with everything in ediscovery, managed review comes in several different service models. This includes everything from simply providing bodies for review to a holistic approach leveraging best practices in business intelligence, workflow optimization, technology accelerated review, and analytics managed by veteran project managers.

The matter’s objectives, timing, cost constraints, and expertise of the case team all should factor into your evaluation of which managed review deployment makes the most sense for your matter.

Ad hoc document reviewers

The most hands-off approach occurs when a document review company is engaged simply to provide reviewers. In this instance, all project management, infrastructure, software, and reporting is handled by the end client. This model may deploy reviewers onsite at the corporation or law firm or offsite, accessing the review platform via a secure web portal.

This approach provides some efficiency over having first year associates (who bill at several hundred dollars per hour) review large data volumes. However, it puts the onus on the case team and the end client to supply oversight, physical space, and the infrastructure and software to conduct the review, and review efficiency varies based on the tools the firm has.

Light-touch managed review

This approach has the reviewers outside of the client facility, either in a review center controlled by the service provider or offsite via remote access. It includes “project management lite” — with a team lead or a PM contributing a set number of hours.

The ediscovery review platform in this case may be provided by the managed review vendor, but there is not a dedicated focus on creating additional efficiency through detailed reporting, metric tracking, and AI-optimized workflows. Rather, in this model the PM is generally tasked with timesheet management, tracking basic review rates, handling administrative issues, and possibly suggesting modifications to the review team.

This model has some benefits over ad hoc review. It frees up the client case team to focus on higher function aspects of ediscovery. Outsourcing infrastructure, space, and administrative functions may increase the unit cost (either through PM time or hourly), but the efficiencies gained outweigh the incremental unit cost increase.

Fully managed review

A comprehensive managed review approach entails an end-to-end provider supplying everything: technology, people, project management, analytics, and workflow optimization. This holistic approach offers the greatest potential for efficiency because the project managers go beyond the administrative process ⁠— they are experts in the review tool, offering analytics to optimize the review.

The expertise benefits extend further than the project management level. A well-run managed review offering will leverage the same reviewers on a case-by-case basis, which increases the top-level subject matter expertise of the review team. Your dedicated project manager will use proven, lawyer-driven workflows, embedded quality control mechanisms and reporting tools to supervise the review team, monitor the entire review process, and handle all the review logistics ensuring quality and defensibility through uniform legal best practices. Streamlined review protocols and real-time system oversight and feedback ensure you stay informed and in control of the process.

The benefit to this sort of approach, despite that slightly higher unit cost is a drastic reduction in review time and cost. DISCO managed review, for example, averages review speeds 56% faster than industry-accepted rates while maintaining higher rates of accuracy resulting in all our reviews meeting deadlines and budgets, guaranteed.

Considerations in managed review provider selection

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Once you determine that a matter requires managed review and which deployment model makes the most sense, there are some additional considerations in selecting the right partner for the job.

When evaluating a vendor’s document review center, there are a few things to look for:

  • Dedicated private review space
  • Adequacy of the hardware offered (recent systems to support the review platform, sufficient internet connectivity, controls on access to storage drives
  • Data security of the review center (access control to enter, locked down USB drives and ports, disaster recovery and business continuity protocols)
  • Physical security of the review center
  • Location of the actual facilities (evaluate cost and proximity as subject to your firm’s goals as well as availability of capable reviewers)

Location, location, location

Providers offer the options of remote or on-premise at a review center. Although I tend to defer to onsite reviewers at a review center, either may work depending on your security posture.

When evaluating a vendor’s document review center, there are a few things to look for:

  • Dedicated private review space
  • Adequacy of the hardware offered (recent systems to support the review platform, sufficient internet connectivity, controls on access to storage drives
  • Data security of the review center (access control to enter, locked down USB drives and ports, disaster recovery and business continuity protocols)
  • Physical security of the review center
  • Location of the actual facilities (evaluate cost and proximity as subject to your firm’s goals as well as availability of capable reviewers)

Physical location can prove especially relevant in two instances: when global data privacy factors in, and when cost containment is a driver. In-country review centers can help alleviate issues especially with GDPR, while centers located in lower-cost or offshore locations can offer a great cost saving benefit. Both should be considered.

End-to-end vs. à la carte

Another key consideration is whether to select an end-to-end provider or one that has review as a standalone offering. When deploying a true managed review model, I find that companies that offer end-to-end solutions are able to offer the greatest efficiency because they are able to tailor the early case assessment and analytics more effectively to drive down review volume. At the same time, their project management team is the most well-versed in the specific suite of tools offered within their organization. If your goal is maximum efficiency, I recommend using an all-inclusive shop.

TAR and advanced workflow capability

The golden triangle remains people, process, and technology, and in this case having the right technology drives massive efficiencies and higher accuracies when coupled with effective processes and the right people.

Unless there is an application of TAR and advanced prioritization workflows, you are not getting effective managed review. I recommend evaluating the suite of tools offered by the provider and ensuring that they have a robust stack, including advanced analytics to reduce the review population and accelerate your review at a fraction of the cost.

The golden triangle remains people, process, and technology, and in this case having the right technology drives massive efficiencies and higher accuracies when coupled with effective processes and the right people.

The golden triangle remains people, process, and technology, and in this case having the right technology drives massive efficiencies and higher accuracies when coupled with effective processes and the right people.

The right people and expertise

In a managed review model, you have to rely on the knowledge and capabilities of your provider’s team. Ensure that you are comfortable with the experience of the project management team, communication protocols, and relevant expertise. Do not be shy in letting a case team know if you are uncomfortable with the project manager assigned to your matter.

At minimum, make sure the project manager has experience both in reviewing and project management. Many providers try to pass off a reviewer as a PM and the results are apparent. If the matter at hand is especially complex or occupies a niche subject matter, ensure that the PM has relevant and recent experience on managing such cases, because the lessons learned in prior matters can drive efficiency. You do not want your matter to be anyone’s first rodeo. I recommend asking for a CV and list of representative cases if you are uncertain.

Metrics, reports, and dashboards — Oh my!

Transparency is always important, but this is especially the case when you are relying on the project management and oversight of a managed review company. You will want to ensure that you know all of the ways your partner can keep you up-to-speed on the progress of the matter, and efficiencies you are gaining from leveraging managed review and advanced workflows.

I recommend setting a clear communication cadence with daily or weekly updates of the metrics most important to your evaluation of the progress of the case. This may include review rates, spend to budget, review progress against the corpus, overturn rates, etc. Depending on your preferred way of reviewing this information, this reporting can be done with Excel, a dashboard, or an update email. A good provider should have this information in multiple versions available for consumption. Ensure that the provider is supplying the information and metrics necessary to ensure your team is always in the know and can make sure costs are under control.

Matter type

Managed review solutions can greatly reduce time to insight for nearly any type of case or review, and certain matter types are nearly impossible to effectively execute without some level of managed review support. In particular, fast-moving government investigations like a second request or FCPA matter, complex multinational or jurisdiction litigation, large data volume, and joint defense matters all require a degree of oversight, analysis, and workflow customization that is right in the wheelhouse of an excellent managed review provider. Drawing on the scalability and breadth of experience of a well-versed managed review provider in matters like this leads to a much smoother, more efficient and cost contained outcome.

A final thought

With the right people, processes, and technology, a robust managed review approach offers significant efficiency in terms of time and cost savings. Understanding your needs before engaging the provider helps greatly in ensuring a favorable outcome. Establish an honest dialogue with any partner and keep the lines of communication open. Simply put, do not be afraid to ask for what you need to maximize efficiency and accelerate your review.

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