Modern Online Review Tool: Review Documents Anywhere, Anytime
09-01-2009, Oklahoma Briefcase (a publication of the Oklahoma County Bar Association) - Gavin W. Manes . . . ber_09_Briefcase.pdf
Reviewing documents for litigation purposes is a complex, time-consuming, and logistically tricky process. Most legal professionals choose to review all documents on paper because itís the most familiar and may be the only option available.

Since the digital revolution, there have been several attempts at online document review. Unfortunately, those tools had very steep learning curves and consequently didnít gain wide acceptance. But another generation of online review tools has now come out, and their claim to fame is ease of use.

Major hurdles for using the old tools included a lengthy learning process, convoluted navigation and menu structures and many unnecessary features. Complications arose from the bundling of e-discovery processing and production elements within the review tool. The new programs make no such claim: they are solely targeted at replacing the yellow sticky notes, colored highlighters and tabs used in organizing the paper review process, and do not integrate any additional e-discovery procedures. As a result of this focus, documents input to the tool must be pre- and post-processed in order to produce actual documents for court. This simplifies use of the tool itself and also prevents reviewers from adversely affecting the index, the documents, or any redaction associated with a document.

We conducted a small experiment with several technologically-challenged attorneys, giving them 3,000 emails with their associated attachments to review. In under a week, the attorneys were able to lay eyes on each and every email and attachment. They reported positively on several features, including the automatic privilege tagging and the capability to search multiple documents for a specific keyword. Another significant advantage was the unprecedented access from virtually anywhere in the world at any time of day: the only requirements were an internet connection and a computer with an internet browser. One of the attorneys even worked during the day from his office then reviewed documents at night from his home computer.

The other game-changing feature of modern online review tools is that they allow for massive collaboration in the review of documents. Much like the world of online gaming has allowed video gamers to work together to defeat ghouls and demons, these review tools allow litigation teams to log in from anywhere and work their way through a maze of documents. In fact, these tools require nothing more than an internet browser; this means that there is no additional software to install, almost instant access to the documents, and no IT staff necessary to administer the programs.

Of course, cost is a significant concern in any part of the e-discovery process, as many teams are handling millions of documents in the course of litigation. Given the number of features of the current set of review tools, one might expect the cost to be high: however, the reduction of hardware and software costs for the providers of these tools have allowed them to deliver a focused, usable service for less cost than any company could do themselves.

Online review tools have come a long way in the past several years, and have finally become easy enough to use and feature-specific such that they are most useful for document review during litigation. With the growing separation of litigation teams across the country and the rising number of documents present during any given litigation event, the online nature of the e-discovery beast was bound to develop. Now, document review is something that can be done by anyone, anywhere, at anytime Ė it has now caught up to the speed of business.