What Techniques Do Lawyers Use to Manage Document Volumes During Discovery?


    What Techniques Do Lawyers Use to Manage Document Volumes During Discovery?

    Paralegals are the unsung heroes of legal document management during discovery, employing techniques that range from understanding the subject matter to categorizing crucial information. Our insights begin with a seasoned Paralegal and culminate with the adoption of keyword search methodologies, alongside additional answers that provide a spectrum of strategies. These responses, including those from non-experts, offer a tapestry of methods to efficiently handle the daunting task of managing large volumes of documents.

    • Understand Subject Matter and Categorize
    • Employ Robust E-Discovery Platforms
    • Implement Data Deduplication Software
    • Leverage Predictive Coding Algorithms
    • Prioritize with Relevance Ranking
    • Adopt Document Batching Protocols
    • Utilize Keyword Search Methodologies

    Understand Subject Matter and Categorize

    When managing large volumes of documents, especially when they are exchanged electronically, I follow the same steps:

    (1) Ensure I fully understand the subject matter involved. I recently worked on a case with over 175,000 documents (our client's documents and the disclosure from the other side). It was evident that some of the other lawyers working on the file were unfamiliar with the various terminology and concepts surrounding the case (predominantly engineering). This made it impossible for them to assist with reviewing and properly categorizing the documents.

    (2) Break down the legal tests relating to the issues of the case. When dealing with a large volume of documents, it can be easy to get 'caught in the weeds' with documents that appear helpful to the case but, at the end of the day, it's often a waste of time.

    (3) With the legal tests broken down, pick categories (i.e., expressed warranty; implied warranty; damages), relevancy ranks (not relevant, highly relevant, low relevance), and privileged/not privileged. This allows you to mark a document as privileged or not, relevant or not, and if relevant, what issue it speaks to.

    (4) With volumes such as hundreds of thousands of documents—if you're not able to review each individual document—you need to know who the key players are in the case and what keyword searches to use to break down the review into smaller chunks to be able to review the most amount of highly relevant files as possible. Once they are categorized and marked as relevant/non-privileged, then you will find the documents needed for an Affidavit of Documents, Examination preparation and attendance, and for the mediation memo that tends to follow these.

    The final tip I would pass along is that it's vitally important that you understand the e-discovery software/platform or database you are using. If you don't understand the technology, you must employ someone who does. The nightmares and messes that stem from people not understanding the case or not understanding the database/software often result in tens of thousands of dollars in fees and hours, days, or weeks wasted.

    Madelaine MckenzieParalegal, Campbells LLP

    Employ Robust E-Discovery Platforms

    Dealing with mountains of documents during discovery is no joke, and one game-changing technique we've embraced is employing a robust e-discovery platform. This tech wizardry not only helps us sift through documents at warp speed but also assists in categorizing and flagging important information. It's like having a digital Sherlock Holmes on our team, sniffing out the relevant details amidst the document chaos. This not only saves us time but ensures we're thorough in our discovery process.

    Mike Schmidt
    Mike SchmidtCivil Trial Law Specialist, Personal Injury Trial Law Specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy., Schmidt & Clark

    Implement Data Deduplication Software

    One way to handle the extensive amount of paperwork during the discovery phase of a legal case is by implementing data deduplication software. This type of software reduces storage needs and streamlines review by eliminating repeated copies of documents. It ensures that only one instance of a document is kept on file, while duplicates are flagged or removed.

    The simplification provided by deduplication can drastically decrease the volume of documents attorneys need to sift through, saving time and resources. If you're dealing with a high volume of legal documents, consider exploring data deduplication solutions.

    Leverage Predictive Coding Algorithms

    Another technique in the legal field for managing large document sets is leveraging predictive coding algorithms. These sophisticated tools use machine learning to help lawyers identify relevant documents more efficiently. By examining a small set of documents and learning from a lawyer's classifications, predictive coding algorithms can then extrapolate those determinations to the larger dataset.

    This not only speeds up the review process but also increases consistency in document handling. Look into predictive coding technology to enhance your document review process.

    Prioritize with Relevance Ranking

    When faced with an overwhelming number of documents during discovery, prioritizing them by relevance ranking can be incredibly effective. By assigning a relevance score to each document, attorneys can focus their attention on the most pertinent information first. This method often employs complex algorithms that assess patterns in data to determine the potential importance of the documents.

    As a result, lawyers can work more strategically and avoid wasting time on less relevant material. If you're overwhelmed by document volumes, ask about using relevance ranking systems in your review process.

    Adopt Document Batching Protocols

    Adopting document batching protocols is a strategic way to divide the labor-intensive document review task during discovery into more manageable parts. By batching documents into smaller, more focused groups, legal teams can tackle them in segments based on factors like topic, date, or document type. This approach allows multiple reviewers to work in parallel without becoming overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of material.

    Moreover, it helps maintain quality control over the review process. To aid your legal team during discovery, consider structuring your review with document batching protocols.

    Utilize Keyword Search Methodologies

    Utilizing keyword search methodologies is a common and straightforward technique for managing large volumes of documents during the discovery phase in legal proceedings. By identifying specific search terms that are likely to be relevant to the case, lawyers can quickly zero in on documents that require closer examination. This method not only saves time but also ensures that important documents are less likely to be overlooked.

    However, it requires careful selection of keywords to avoid missing critical information. Incorporate keyword searches effectively to refine your document management strategy.