eDiscovery Daily Blog

eDiscovery Best Practices: When is it OK to Produce without Linear Review?


At eDiscoveryDaily, the title of our daily post usually reflects some eDiscovery news and/or analysis that we are providing our readers.  However, based on a comment I received from a colleague last week, I thought I would ask a thought provoking question for this post.

There was an interesting post in the EDD Update blog a few days ago entitled Ediscovery Production Without Review, written by Albert Barsocchini, Esq.  The post noted that due to “[a]dvanced analytics, judicial acceptance of computer aided coding, claw back/quick-peek agreements, and aggressive use of Rule 16 hearings”, many attorneys are choosing to produce responsive ESI without spending time and money on a final linear review.

A colleague of mine sent me an email with a link to the post and stated, “I would not hire a firm if I knew they were producing without a doc by doc review.”

Really?  What if:

  • You collected the equivalent of 10 million pages* and still had 1.2 million potentially responsive pages after early data assessment/first pass review? (reducing 88% of the population, which is a very high culling percentage in most cases)
  • And your review team could review 60 pages per hour, requiring 20,000 hours to complete the responsiveness review?
  • And their average rate was a very reasonable $75 per hour to review, resulting in a total cost of $1.5 million to perform a doc by doc review?
  • And you had a clawback agreement in place so that you could claw back any inadvertently produced privileged files?

“Would you insist on a doc by doc review then?”, I asked.

Let’s face it, $1.5 million is a lot of money.  That may seem like an inordinate amount of money to spend on linear review and the data volume for some large cases may be so voluminous that an effective argument might be made to rely on technology to identify the files to produce.

On the other hand, if you’re a company like Google and you inadvertently produced a document in a case potentially worth billions of dollars, $1.5 million doesn’t seem near as big an amount to spend given the risk associated with potential mistakes.  Also, as the Google case and this case illustrate, there are no guarantees with regards to the ability to claw back inadvertently produced files.  The cost of linear review will, especially in larger cases, need to be weighed against the potential risk of not conducting that review for the organization to determine what’s the best approach for them.

So, what do you think?  Do you produce in cases where not all of the responsive documents are reviewed before production? Are there criteria that you use to determine when to conduct or forego linear review?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

*I used pages in the example to provide a frame of reference to which most attorneys can relate.  While 10 million pages may seem like a large collection, at an average of 50,000 pages per GB, that is only 200 total GB.  Many laptops and desktops these days have a drive that big, if not larger.  Depending on your review approach, most, if not all, original native files would probably never be converted to a standard paginated document format (i.e., TIFF or PDF).  So, it is unlikely that the total page count of the collection would ever be truly known.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine Discovery. eDiscoveryDaily is made available by CloudNine Discovery solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscoveryDaily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.