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Ever-increasing data volumes are forcing legal departments to create comprehensive eDiscovery strategies. In fact, more and more firms are investing in digital tools to expedite eDiscovery and improve outcomes in court.
But as many legal firms are experiencing firsthand, eDiscovery is no cakewalk. There are many challenges and barriers that slow down operations, increase costs, and expose firms and clients to risk.
In order to get the best eDiscovery results, it’s critical to implement robust quality control measures. This is important for ensuring accuracy and aligning team members to goals and objectives.
Read on to learn why eDiscovery quality control is important, the benefits of enforcing it, and some best practices to consider when integrating these mechanisms into your workflows.
What Is eDiscovery Quality Control?
eDiscovery quality control is a strategy for ensuring that electronically stored information (ESI) remains defensible and accurate in court. By implementing robust eDiscovery quality control measures, legal teams can prepare more effectively for hearings and trials. In addition, eDiscovery quality control helps reduce risk and prevent inaccurate and unnecessary information from appearing in court.
How Does eDiscovery Quality Control Work?
When you boil it down, there are no exact rules when it comes to eDiscovery. Your legal firm is free to form its own strategy and process for tasks like quality control.
With this in mind, the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) recommends implementing quality control measures at each stage of the eDiscovery process. This helps you avoid unnecessary duplication during reviews and meet eDiscovery deadlines.
Here's a general breakdown of the eDiscovery review process, according to the EDRM.
1. Develop a Review Strategy
The first step is analyzing your needs and developing a thorough review strategy that aligns with your workflows and goals. As a best practice, you should revisit your strategy from time to time to make sure it’s up to date with your evolving eDiscovery process.
2. Set up a Review Room
In order to give quality control the attention and respect it warrants, it helps to dedicate a specific physical location for reviews. However, reviews can also take place remotely if you have the right communication and security systems in place.
For the best results, the EDRM recommends that your review environment is free of distracting noise. In addition, it should be well lit and away from foot traffic. The review environment should also feature the necessary tools and technologies that reviewers need to assess ESI. Taking the time to maintain your review room ensures speedy and efficient eDiscovery quality reviews. It also helps you avoid wasting time.
3. Perform Data Analysis
Data analysis involves combing through ESI and reviewing for accuracy, clarity, and searchability. During this phase, it may be necessary to add attorney notes and flag items for review.
4. Conduct the Review
After you perform data analysis, the next step is to conduct a formal review. During this stage, a junior-level associate or paralegal will go through the records to identify irrelevant or inaccurate data and remove it from the report.
At the end of the process, it’s a good idea to evaluate the review process. During this phase, you should analyze your objectives and determine whether any items or documents are missing.
Benefits of eDiscovery Quality Control
Handling legal data is a major responsibility and something that legal teams need to execute carefully. Taking the time to conduct thorough and accurate reviews results in a myriad of benefits for your firm and for its clients.
With all this in mind, here are a few of the top benefits of eDiscovery quality control.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but taking the time to go through quality control saves considerable time. This is especially important when considering how fast the eDiscovery process needs to move. Suffice it to say that there’s little time to waste when you’re trying to meet deadlines and prepare for court.
Comprehensive quality control reduces errors that contribute to slowdowns and bottlenecks. The result is a faster and more efficient legal review process.
Another big advantage to eDiscovery quality control is that it reduces risk. This is critical for protecting your firm as well as your paying clients. Reviewing ESI for quality prevents inaccurate and unnecessary data from becoming available to other parties during a trial or hearing.
To illustrate, imagine a case involving a trove of sensitive messages. A big part of the eDiscovery process involves ensuring that only relevant and necessary information becomes discoverable. Exposing too much information could lead to reputational harm and negatively impact a case.
Improve legal outcomes
It’s critical to have a watertight strategy before moving forward into an open trial. Your team needs to be entirely certain of the data it's using. It also needs to be confident that it's omitting the right data during a legal proceeding.
Quality control is your chance to identify inconsistencies and make sure the data you’re presenting is valid and relevant to the case at hand.
Best Practices for eDiscovery Quality Control
Despite the clear need for eDiscovery quality control, many organizations go about it haphazardly. Unfortunately, this leads to a false sense of confidence and embarrassing outcomes.
Of course, no legal team is perfect, and mistakes are bound to appear from time to time, especially when working with massive and complex datasets. However, it’s possible to reduce eDiscovery quality control blunders with the following best practices.
Develop a Robust eDiscovery Process
The most effective and efficient legal teams have clear policies and processes in place for eDiscovery. To illustrate, it’s a good idea to set clear guidelines governing how your organization categorizes files. It also helps to create clear defensible deletion and retention policies. That way, all stakeholders are on the same page when handling ESI.
Conduct Periodic Training
The technology and data landscape is constantly evolving as new solutions and data trends appear. As a result, it’s important to keep eDiscovery teams in the loop about emerging insights and requirements.
To this end, it helps to conduct periodic training to keep team members up to date with the latest industry standards. It’s also worth looking into eDiscovery certification as a way to train and upskill employees.
Communicate Roles and Responsibilities
eDiscovery is an emerging field. It’s common for new eDiscovery professionals to be unclear about specific processes and requirements.
You can prevent confusion and reduce mistakes by clearly communicating roles and responsibilities regarding eDiscovery quality control. Before assigning quality control tasks, make sure team members are aware of what they should look for and how to complete the job.
Use Software to Automate the Process
Another great way to enhance quality control is to use purpose-built eDiscovery software. By using eDiscovery software, you can automatically cull data and reduce manual labor. This type of platform also centralizes data and generates reports that are easy to read and export.
The EDRM recommends using a customizable review platform. In addition, the platform should enable reviewers to mark documents when they're unsure about how to code it. This reduces mistakes and enables viewers to revisit documents and change coding.
Accelerate Your eDiscovery Quality Control Efforts With Venio
Venio Systems offers a leading platform for end-to-end eDiscovery quality control and management. You can use Venio for all eDiscovery needs, from ECA to quality reviews and presentations and everything in between.
To learn more about the transformative nature of Venio, request a demo today.
About the Author
Justin Reynolds & Akshita Singhal
This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling. This post was reviewed and published by Akshita, Sr. Marketing Manager at Venio.