eDiscovery Daily Blog

Managing an eDiscovery Contract Review Team: Drafting Responsive Criteria – a Step-by-Step Guide


The criteria that you prepare for the review will be governed by the objectives that you established for the review.  At a minimum, you’ll draft criteria for responsive documents.  In addition, you may draft criteria for privileged documents, hot documents, and so on.  Let’s start with drafting responsive criteria.  For this step, you’ll need the request for production and the notes that you took when you sampled the document collection.

For each separate point on the request for production, do the following:

  • Expand on the definition.  Make it clearer and more detailed.  Make sure that the language you use is understandable to lay people.
  • List topic areas that are likely to appear in responsive documents.  Make sure these topic areas are objective in nature and that they minimize the need for judgment.  For example, don’t include criteria like “documents that demonstrate negligence in operations”.  Rather, break this down into real-life objective examples like “documents that discuss accidents”, “documents that discuss poor employee performance” and so on.  Use real examples from the documents – examples that you came across during your sampling of the collection.
  • List date ranges of responsive materials.
  • Based on your review of the documents, list as many examples as you can of document types that are responsive, and attach examples to the criteria. 
  • Based on your review of the documents, include as many examples as you can of responsive text.

Several members of the litigation team should review the draft criteria.  Once all suggestions for modifications and additions are agreed upon, put the criteria in “final” form – “final” meaning the document that you will use at the start of the review project.  As you go move forward, update the criteria with more examples and clearer definitions as you learn more about the collection.

In the next issue, we’ll cover criteria for other review objectives you might have established (for example, you might be screening for privilege or significance).

Have you drafted criteria for a document review of a large collection?  How did you approach it and how well did it work?  Please share any comments you might have and let us know if you’d like to know more about an eDiscovery topic.