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Document review (also known as doc review) is the process whereby each party to a case sorts through and analyzes the documents and data they possess (and later the documents and data supplied by their opponents through discovery) to determine which are sensitive or otherwise relevant to the case. Document Review is a valuable main staple of the type of work performed by attorneys for their clients, though it is increasingly common for the work to be performed by specialized document review attorneys.
Some types of cases that typically require large amounts of documents to be reviewed are litigation, mergers and acquisitions, and government and internal investigations (including internal audits). Regarding litigation, documents reviewed by attorneys are obtained through the discovery process, which is generally governed by rules of procedure for the presiding court. In cases in United States Federal Courts the rules related to discovery are Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (F.R.C.P.) 16, 26, 33, 34, 37, and 45 which were amended in 2006 to include electronically stored information.
Though attorneys do still review hard copy documents today, most documents are reviewed electronically either as native files that were originally created electronically or as electronic copies of documents that were originally created in a hard copy format. During the doc review process, each document may be tagged according to certain categories, including whether it is relevant to an issue in the case, whether it is responsive to a discovery request (and therefore may need to be produced as part of the discovery process), whether it is confidential, or whether it is attorney client or otherwise privileged. When large amounts of documents need to be reviewed electronically, often a system is set up that includes review software. This system is known as a platform. The terms electronic discovery and technology assisted review have arisen to reflect the dominance of electronically stored information and the increasing use of machine learning and other technologies to help curb the growing cost of document review.
At times, even with the use of electronic document review platforms the volume of documents that need to be reviewed by an attorney for a case can be expansive and many attorneys including even highly staffed international law firms will need to obtain assistance beyond their standard resources. In these instances other attorneys are often brought into the case to assist specifically with the review of the documents. Traditionally, the additional attorneys needed to assist were hired on directly by attorneys and firms, or they may have worked as independent contractors. In recent years, many legal staffing companies have begun to act as intermediary employers between the law firms and the attorneys hired to assist with the document review. This trend has led to controversy in the legal profession as more and more of the work traditionally performed by U.S. attorneys is being outsourced to countries like India as a result of the legal staffing companies attempting to drive the rates down to remain competitive.
List of files which cannot be categorized as technical issues:
- .joboption files- these are not technical issue files as it merely contains formatting instruction. These files cannot be opened normally. These files will be always unresponsive for document review purposes as they contain only formatting instructions.
In a similar way there are various files with *.htm extensions, which when opened on various document review platforms the content appears in html language, and also having content of email. Even though these documents do not appear normal but as they get opened on a document review platform, and we can read the content of email, they are not technical issue. These files can be viewed normally by copying content in source file of browser.
Generally files that can be categorized with a technical issue in document review processes are those which do not open in any of review modes or the content of document is gibberish. To determine whether the document has a technical issue or not one should check whether the file can have any responsive content or not. If document is a system file there is no point in tagging such file as technical issue, because taking further steps to open such file will not fetch any useful results, as it can never turn in to responsive category, and the client will waste time and money on such documents.
Traditional markets in the United States where many attorneys and firms typically hire additional attorneys to assist with document review are Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago.
- Kane, Sally. "What Is Document Review?". About.com. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
- Kane, Sally. "Document Reviewer". About.com. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
- Mackay, Sheila. "Auto-Classification Review Technologies: What Every Attorney Needs to Know". The National Law Review. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
- Bonney, Martin. "Technology-Assisted Review: An Essential Tool in the Age of Big Data". The Times. Retrieved 20 November 2014.