December 3, 2020

The Evolution of Attorney Review

Discovery continues to evolve, sometimes gradually, sometimes much too quickly. It wasn’t that long ago that discovery involved pulling dusty bankers’ boxes stuffed with client files out of the store room. Lawyers would then wade through reams of paper to try to find responsive information, simultaneously risking paper cuts.

Then came the age of computers. Attorneys’ fears of paper cuts was replaced by a dreaded feeling of drowning in data. Review teams dedicated hours and hours to reviewing hundreds of e-mail strings that were much more likely to include discussions of weekend plans than a smoking gun related to the matter at hand. Today, the evolution continues. It appears like the old days of massive review teams poring over thousands, if not millions, of irrelevant documents are finally over—and most attorneys would agree, good riddance to that. Smarter ECA tools, more stringent corporate document retention and destruction policies, predictive coding and other processes and breakthroughs have allowed legal teams to significantly eliminate much of the non-responsive data before the review phase. However, the review evolutionary cycle hasn’t reached its apex yet. Weeding out the chaff and honing in on relevant information remains an extremely fractured and costly process.

In our experience, most corporations will do a very basic job of managing the litigation hold and collecting custodians’ data. It’s not unusual for legal departments to turn over between 10-30GBs of data per custodian to outside counsel. When you consider that 1 GB of Word documents equals just over 82,000 pages that means outside counsel receive at least 820,000 pages per custodian to review. With even a handful of custodians, it just isn’t feasible to manually review that much data, either from a cost or time perspective.

In most cases, outside counsel turn to a partner to process this data. That partner, or service provider as we call them, will further reduce the number of documents that must be manually reviewed. The service provider will then charge per gigabyte to process that data, and in many instances will actually host that data via a review platform for outside counsel to review. Of course, the corporation will ultimately be charged for all of these steps. In addition, since so many cases drag on for so long, the process I just described will take place over and over again for a single case, as custodians are added and keywords and date ranges change. This adds to the cost and complexity, while taking more time and introducing the possibility of errors and inconsistencies in the manual review.

This is not only bad for businesses, but the entire system is built on several false perceptions. For the most part, the industry as a whole has bought into the fabricated reality that you need to have multiple tools in order to manage the separate steps involved in e-discovery, instead of one tool that can handle a seamless flow from beginning to end. Additionally, many organizations soothe themselves into a false sense of security by telling themselves, and their higher-ups, that “We outsource and let the ‘experts’ handle that portion of the process.” That kind of thinking may help in-house counsel sleep better at night, but it doesn’t let them off the hook. At the end of the day, the corporation or entity that is involved in the lawsuit is liable for its actions or its partner’s actions.

No one seems happy with the current system. I’ve met with hundreds of corporations, law firms and service providers, and the one thing everyone seems to have in common is a dream of simplifying and expediting the overall review process. AccessData continues to strive to help our clients do just that, while reducing costs and risks. We can do this by the breakthroughs embedded in the more powerful, user-friendly, updated Summation. We help clients, law firms and service providers take a strategic approach to every aspect of the review, providing a more efficient, holistic and repeatable review process.

In the Processing phase, Summation can process 700+ data types and associated metadata while maintaining the chain of custody. It can harness distributed processing that fully exploits current hardware technology for unmatched speeds, while automatically identifying and categorizing data, even encrypted files. It can also de-duplicate email and ESI across the matter or for a specific custodian, as well as de-NiST and OCR.

During the Early Case Assessment and First-Pass Review, Summation now includes all the functionality of AccessData’s early data assessment features, but with no throughput fees. It can cull data by custodian, data source, document metadata and type, while providing advanced email threading and analytics and advanced search with hundreds of unique data filters. Summation can handle custom tagging and bookmarking and export to all industry standard load files and EDRM XML.

For Final Review and Production, Summation offers next generation e-discovery review features. Our advanced search features include concept and “4D” searches that provided an unparalleled look at data. It’s web-based with multi-user, multi-site support that allows for email threading, related documents, document family views and linking. It boasts new issue coding and a tagging panel with customized radio buttons and pick lists. Reviewers can redact in near native view with word boundary support, so users can actually drag the redaction tool over the sentence as if highlighting a section of text in MS Word.

And it still features all the classic Summation functionality, including transcript review with notes, color highlighting and reporting, production tools that include bates stamping, burned-in redactions and production history and mobile capability so that users can take the case offline, work on it, then sync up later.

Through the new Summation, we have helped countless clients reduce their overall spend by 25-85%, and we can do the same for your organization. In order to show you the next phase in discovery review, instead of just telling you about it, we are embarking on a global tour this fall. From San Francisco to Sydney, from Cape Town to Chicago, you can see Summation in action and have your questions answered in person. You can view the schedule for our Re-Discover Summation shows here . And you can always contact us anytime, wherever you are, at to learn more.

Trey Tramonte

Trey Tramonte is the VP of Sales for AccessData and is in charge of all commercial and international sales related activities including sales, technical sales, and customers support. Prior to joining AccessData he ran the midmarket group at Guidance Software where he rapidly increased sales by well over 100% YOY. Before joining Guidance he worked at several other technology companies including BMC Software, BindView (purchased by Symantec) and Dell. Trey believes the cornerstone of his success revolves around listening to clients and then working with them in order to help them achieve their objectives.

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  1. Great Article! thanks for sharing such information which is informative to us.


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