LexInsight Blog

The importance of having clear protocols and examples in document review.

Jun 1, 2018 2:00:00 PM / by Mark Anderson


It is really important to have a clear protocol when you have started a document review.    The protocol should explain what you want the document reviewer to do in coding the documents.  It should clearly tell the reviewer what he or she should do in the coding panels in the reviewing software.  The protocol should explain the case and background so the reviewer knows what documents are relevant and not relevant.   It should also give a list of the main attorneys so the document review can determine attorney client privilege. You could also create a protocol that can change.   It seems like instructions are changing through the review so the protocol should be changed as the instructions change. It should clearly explain what should be reviewed and what boxes should be checking the program.  You may have certain issues that are tagged. You should give an explanation of the issues. It will save time and money. It is also important to have clear examples of how you want the documents coded. It seems like each review is different so you need to make clear how you want the documents coded or described in a privilege log.  It is also probably a good idea to look at some of the documents prior to the document review to use as examples. The protocol should also include pictures of the review panel and the documents used for examples.

A sample protocol could be organized as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Coding
  3. Relevant vs. not relevant
  4. Issue tags
  5. Attorney client
  6. Technical issues
  7.  Examples

The reviewers need to know about the case so they can decide if the document is relevant.  It really depends upon your agreement with the other side as to what will be searched and coded.   It is good idea to clearly state this in the protocol as it will determine how the documents are coded.   You may want to do training or provide it in the protocol a summary stating what they need to look at what boxes need to be check in the reviewing software.   It will save time and money.

I have also been on reviews where junk files are in the documents.  It would save time to get these documents taken out of the batches.   I have also been on several document reviews where there have not been clear protocols.  It leads to inconsistent coding and wasted time. I have also been on remote reviews that use slack to answer questions.  It also provided a list of issues. However, it did not provide examples. You really need examples of the issues. I would provide examples for every issue so is a clear protocol or instruction on how to code certain issues and documents.  On remote document reviews it is important to be able to communicate and get answers. It is not very productive if there is uncertainty in how the documents should be reviewed. In conclusion, it is important to have a clear protocol and examples to save time and money.

Topics: For Contract Attorneys

Mark Anderson

Written by Mark Anderson

An attorney working in general practice and document review.