Document review involves checking litigation, mergers, acquisitions, and government internal audit records to extract useful information, and cull irrelevant or highly confidential details to prevent their disclosure to the opposing counsel. It is a process post e-discovery which extracts useful information relevant to the case.
Even though document review has created jobs and benefited attorneys and professionals, it has agitated them over issues related to work, time, compensation, and ethics. In traditional business settings, printed documents occupy significant space, thus clogging the workflow and making the job more tedious.
Understanding e-discovery process
E-discovery is a process of extracting crucial data related to the case and disqualifying the irrelevant ones; it aids in classifying and preserving important records. Even though the e-discovery process has benefited many firms in extracting information, some firms still keep paper records and follow manual discovery process.
Document coding follows e-discovery and involves indexing of the e-discovered information based on key details such as author data, communication date, and cc recipients. It induces quick identification of information during the document review process, thus enabling faster delivery of justice.
Document review in litigation process
Litigation process starts with the plaintiff filing a complaint with the court of law. Then, attorneys from both the parties get involved in the discovery process, extracting details about the case and the communications. A document review commences post discovery process to shortlist the documents suitable for producing in front of the opposing counsel. If a defendant or plaintiff finds that their case lacks potential, they may press for a settlement outside the court. Else they need to face court trials and wait for the law to take its own course.
Educational qualification for a reviewer
Paralegal reviewers are the people having an associate degree, degree, or no degree qualification and providing litigation support. Attorney reviewers are those having a degree in law and working on complex legal processes.
Some law firms need the people with knowledge of Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) tools. Other firms do consider appointing the fresh candidates by providing training on those tools, but with less pay.
A document reviewer’s work is tougher, needing to deal with the heavy work burden without incentive options. Severe competition between legal firms has led to cost cutting measures, thus increasing the burden on document review professionals to take more work than 12 hours. Harsh work environments force people to quit jobs, while a cartel of job agencies prevents them from getting hired, to warn others of leaving jobs.
Firms following traditional record keeping model face severe competition from those on technologies, as they get things done faster at lesser expenses. Many of the firms push their working staff in congested spaces to make way for confidential files.
Outsourcing as a solution
Many legal outsourcing firms leverage technology to deliver legal solutions at lesser cost, thus saving millions of dollars for clients. Despite initial resistance towards outsourcing, many big legal firms ventured to take the services of legal outsourcing service providers and achieved success. Such a measure benefits traditional firms by allowing them to shift the burden of the labor intensive tasks like document reviewing, and concentrate on core processes.