Back to Basics: How to Make Document Review Better

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So much of what we talk about in the e-Discovery space these days focuses on what’s new and exciting, and what cutting-edge technology promises to revolutionize the way we conduct document discovery. But it’s important not to forget one of the core components of discovery today, even in those cases that deploy the latest advanced technology: human document review. Virtually every litigation or regulatory matter involves some degree of document review.

We founded DiscoverReady to create a better quality, more efficient, and more cost-effective way to do document review. We focused on developing a process-driven approach to review, and we believe our approach still leads the industry. But in addition to the process used for review, it’s also crucial to recognize the role played by the people who manage and implement that process, and the technology that enables and enhances the process. By optimizing people, process, and technology, DiscoverReady delivers the highest quality review to its clients. In fact, in 2013 we were named the best provider of managed document review by the National Law Journal’s “Best Of Legal Times.”

There are roughly a dozen key criteria for a high-quality review, which can be organized around the people, process, and technology involved. Some of these may seem “basic,” but when it comes to review, getting back to basics often is what’s needed to generate the best results.


  • Experienced project managers who carefully plan, implement, and manage the review should lead projects.
  • For a review to succeed there must be clear, effective communication among all stakeholders in the project.
  • The lawyers supervising the review must complete a thorough substantive preparation before kicking off the project.
  • Reviews should be staffed with teams of reviewers who are qualified, well trained, comfortable in their environment, and motivated to deliver high-quality work product.
  • The lawyers supervising the review team should take a “hands-on” approach that incorporates a continuous and constructive feedback loop with the review team.


  • The review process should be anchored in best practices, but tailored to the specific requirements of the matter.
  • The team should document all aspects of the review process, and memorialize all decisions made about the review.
  • The project manager must track the project regularly.
  • The process should incorporate rigorous quality control and remediation measures into the workflow.
  • A review process should contain defined mechanisms for quality assurance review and “sign off” by supervising counsel, which may include statistical and judgmental sampling protocols.
  • Formalized knowledge management and information sharing routines should be followed at the conclusion of a review.


  • Up-to-date training on the review platform software should be provided for all reviewers.
  • Workflows should be designed to leverage the review platform’s available technology features.
  • Review leadership should consider leveraging predictive coding and other advanced analytics.
  • Review protocols should incorporate security measures that rely on available technology to minimize information security risks.

To learn more about these important elements in practice, Still Critically Important: Optimizing People, Process, And Technology.


Author Details
Senior Vice President, Discovery Strategy & Data Privacy/Security
A recognized thought leader in e-discovery, Maureen collaborates with the company’s clients and operations teams to develop innovative information strategies for legal discovery, compliance, and sensitive data protection. She speaks and writes frequently on significant issues in e-discovery and information governance, and participates actively in the Sedona Conference Working Groups on Electronic Document Retention and Production and Data Privacy and Security. Prior to DiscoverReady, Maureen was a partner at Paul Hastings LLP, where she represented Fortune 100 companies in complex employment litigation matters.
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