eDiscovery Daily Blog

Managing an eDiscovery Contract Review Team: Keeping Decisions in the Hands of the Attorneys


The main objective in most document reviews is to categorize each document into one of three categories:

  • Responsive, to be produced
  • Not Responsive
  • Privileged

Attorneys on the litigation team will make the decisions regarding how to categorize the documents, and the contract review staff will implement those decisions.  Before the review even starts, you’ve done a lot of work to ensure that this process will work well:

  • You sampled the collection, looked at a lot of documents, and made decisions regarding how to categorize them
  • You drafted detailed, objective criteria that encapsulates that work product
  • You thoroughly trained the contract staff

And, you’ve staffed the project in a hierarchy that works well for keeping decisions in the hands of the attorneys.  Let’s review how this works in practice.

The base of your project is made up of contract reviewers who have been trained and armed with solid, objective criteria.  They won’t make decisions regarding what constitutes responsiveness or privilege.  They are simply applying rules that have already been developed by attorneys responsible for the case.  When a reviewer comes across a document that isn’t covered by the rules, they bring it to a supervisor.  The supervisor won’t make substantive decisions either, but the supervisor has had more access to the attorneys and broader exposure to the document collection than an individual reviewer, so the supervisor will in many cases know how to categorize a document in question.  When the supervisor can’t do that, it gets kicked up to the next level (most likely the project manager) who has yet broader exposure to the collection.  Some documents will get funneled up to an attorney for a decision.  In fact, that’s likely to happen frequently at the start of the project.  That’s why it’s important that attorney decision-makers are on-site and available full-time in the beginning.  As the project moves forward, you may be able to get by with attorneys being available remotely.

There are other steps you’ll take and mechanisms that you’ll employ to ensure that this model works well.  We’ll cover those in the next post in this series.

How do you structure and manage a document review project?  Please share any comments you have and let us know if you’d like to know more about an eDiscovery topic.