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By Sarah Ledgerwood

Published on Thu, April 30, 2020

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In the world of data and ediscovery, you can always count on the document review phase of every case to comprise a huge portion of spend and time. The traditional model of requiring reviewers and data to reside together in the same physical location has evolved as documents transformed from paper to electronic data, the location of the review shifted further away from law firms and companies to review centers (both onshore and offshore), and data almost universally moved to the Cloud. While conducting review remotely isn’t an entirely new concept, COVID-19 forced an overnight evolution as stay-at-home orders were instituted worldwide and everyone suddenly needed to adopt remote review right now.

Embracing Remote Document Review in the Age of COVID-19

In a recent webinar, Lighthouse’s Rob Hellewell moderated an interesting discussion on the state of remote review, alongside speakers Caleb King, co-founder of MPlace, a pioneer in the remote review space, and Lighthouse’s Lori Steidl, a former attorney with years of experience in running reviews for law firms. The panel discussed the evolution of document review, the current impact of COVID-19, the top benefits of embracing remote review, as well as the primary hurdles that need to be overcome to ensure a secure and efficient review. While many in the legal world had previously been hesitant to adopt remote review, COVID-19 has essentially launched it into the mainstream. Here are the primary benefits and top hurdles when it comes to remote document review:

Remote Review Benefits

  • Cost of review – With remote review, the most obvious cost that goes down is you no longer need to pay a premium for a physical review center. This cost varies depending on what market you’re in, but substantial cost savings are immediate if you’re in one of the traditional major markets like Washington, D.C., or New York City where so many reviews have historically taken place. You’ll also save on commuting and parking costs for your reviewers.
  • Bigger talent pool – Not only will you no longer need a specific physical space, but you’ll open up a world of opportunity by having access to a wide talent pool that’s not limited to one geographical area. In the past, large law firms in major markets had to compete for the same talent pool of reviewers, but with remote review, you have a global talent pool at your fingertips.
  • Better morale/happier reviewers – Traditional document review centers are not exactly known for their pleasant working conditions. Moving to a remote review model will almost certainly create an environment of better morale and happier reviewers, and in turn, more productive reviewers.

Remote Review Hurdles

  • Data security – During the webinar, a poll of the audience showed data security is the top concern when it comes to remote review. As we’ve become accustomed to relying on technology, solutions for remote document review are already built into our existing processes. For example, multi-factor authentication is commonplace in review tools and endpoint detection and response are built in.
  • Quality of review – Although the typical review environment allows for maximum interaction between reviewers and managers whenever questions arise, this same scenario can be replicated via video calls and chats. Thus far in COVID-19, many have discovered that quality of reviews are actually improving as there are fewer distractions and there’s increased reliance on objective measures like data from review metrics.
  • Supervision – Managers have traditionally felt they have less control over reviewers in a remote environment. But with the review tools everyone has already been using, there are many oversight options to rely on, including reporting metrics. Confidentiality agreements and training can also make review teams just as manageable as they were when everyone was in a review center together.

Overall, when set up properly, remote review delivers improved speed and quality and, in most cases, incurs lower cost than traditional review. In addition, as review was already moving further and further from the physical site of companies and law firms, the leap to remote review isn’t much different from traditional review. Both now and post-COVID, remote review can deliver happier reviewers, lower costs, and the best utilization of technology to ensure safety and security. To share tips and advice from your own experiences with remote review, please feel free to reach out to me at SLedgerwood@lighthouseglobal.com or Twitter @sarahewood.

About the Author
Sarah Ledgerwood

eDiscovery Evangelist and Marketing Content Strategist

Sarah is an eDiscovery Evangelist and Marketing Content Strategist at Lighthouse. She has over 18 years of experience across the legal, technology, and marketing industries since graduating from law school. She specializes in creating digital marketing strategy and content for Lighthouse. She particularly enjoys the challenge of translating and communicating the benefits of legal technology to help clients innovate and optimize their information governance and ediscovery programs. Her expertise in ediscovery began in the early days when she supported clients in a project management capacity on a multitude of cases including regulatory investigations and complex litigation. She earned her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington, and J.D. from American University in Washington, D.C.