Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of posts by RVM's Manager of Attorney Review, Kevin Chang. He will go into more detail on review management topics in later posts.
Over the past several years, outsourcing document review project management to vendors has become commonplace and increasingly accepted as necessary; the required electronic discovery skill set is not one taught in law school and relying on even senior associates rather than an experienced review manager can prove treacherous, especially given the demand for increased cost/benefit sophistication in the document review and production process.
That said, there remains a wide spectrum of review management expertise being offered industry-wide. What should a client or outside counsel be looking for with so-called expert managed review? Are these services essential?
Review management expertise breaks down into two essential components: experience and training.
These two elements tend to overlap a great deal as much of the training is “on the job.” While legal acumen and critical thinking skills are no doubt highly desirable if not essential to good review management, again, nobody learns how to manage a document review in law school. Even for those skills that law school does teach (such as being able to identify privilege and work product), a great deal of hands-on exposure and application is still necessary to round our one’s academic training. It’s exactly this that speaks to the importance of quality project management.
So what degree of experience and training is necessary? A review manager should be able to efficiently oversee every aspect of the review itself while also serving as the key point of contact for every involved party: the client, outside counsel, hosting and processing, and the contract attorney team. This means that a quality review manager needs to be able to speak many different “languages” and be able to serve as an interpreter of sorts among the different parties. The best review managers should have an effective understanding and familiarity with every stage of the EDRM and the roles that each party involved must play. (Just how much a truly qualified review manager should know about the hosting and processing side of the e-discovery process will be a subject addressed in a later entry.)
With this level of knowledge and experience at hand, a document review manager is able to assume a useful role as a true consultant to both the client and outside counsel. At minimum, a review manager should be able to advise in plain language as to the optimal workflow to be applied to the particular review at issue given the cost, scheduling, and risk tolerances involved – including possible implementation of such structural assistance made available through technologies such as email thread and near-duplicate batching, concept clustering, and predictive coding.
Moreover, the review manager should be able to pro-actively address the logistical needs of clients, such as communication and security protocols, as well as anticipate most or all potential problems that might emerge down the line due to errors or omissions at the review’s outset. Each review project is different and again, associates who are less familiar with the process may not be able to foresee potentially troublesome issues that may arise with the same degree of facility that a truly experienced review project manager can.
What we recommend at RVM and have implemented ourselves is a full-on apprenticeship and training program for all review project managers. This guarantees that anyone who is heading up a review team for our clients has both the necessary skills and experience. All of our review project managers and senior review project managers have helped guide several document reviews in an assistant review manager role (far beyond merely participating in the QC or privilege logging processes) prior to assuming their current duties. Furthermore, each RVM review manager has undergone a structured training program in not only the necessary management elements but also advanced review tool functionality, including back end hosting functions. This allows our review managers to serve as caretakers for a seamless process from inception to production.