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Controlling the Cost of Litigation for Your Clients: Part 2 -
"Document Review"

Traditional Paper Method

Step One - Identify any ten categories into which you know you will want to sort the universe of documents. List those categories below. We know you will want a privileged document stack, so let’s list that to start, and add a few other typical categories.

  1. Privileged Documents
  2. Significant Documents
  3. Documents that pertain to Damages
  4. Documents that pertain to Liability
  5. Documents authored or prepared by your client
  6. Documents authored or prepared by the opposing party
  7. Documents that support your defenses
  8. Documents that may not be privileged, but are considered confidential
  9. Documents that are to be produced to the other parties in the case

Step Two - Review all 6,250 documents and place them into the appropriate stack(s). If a document fits into more than one category, will you make enough additional copies of it to fit into every appropriate stack? Maybe you can just put a yellow sticky note on each document to indicate each category to which it pertains. No, that may not work because in Step Ten we will be putting each stack into chronological order. Oops, this will mess up the overall chronological set that we just worked so long to assemble. Maybe the best thing to do is make an entire additional set of all the documents so they can be properly sorted into stacks. Wait a minute, are we talking about a fourth set of documents at an additional cost of $3,000, meaning you must now store and maintain forty boxes of this @#*% paper? It is your call – there may be a better way.

Step Three - Put each of your ten stacks of documents into chronological order.

Step Four - Now prepare a separate chronological index of all of the documents in each stack showing the following information:

  • Document Number
  • Bates Number(s)
  • Date

Step Five - Just like above, attach a copy of each document to each index to which it pertains so it can be reviewed instantaneously each time you want to look at it. If you prefer, you could skip this step and incur the minute and a half cost of locating each document each time you need to refer to it as you build your case. Would it be fair to assume that you will need to locate each document at least once for this purpose? Are we talking about another $13,281 at a minimum?

Step Six - Total your costs for Steps 1 - 5.

Step 1 - $________

Step 2 - $________

Step 3 - $________

Step 4 - $________

Step 5 - $________

Total - $________

Digital Method

Compare the total cost you calculated in Step 6 with the cost to manage this portion of the exercise with a database.

Step 1 - Same time and cost, except instead of preparing a list on paper, set up ten custom tag fields in the database.

Step 2 - Same time and cost to review the documents, but no need to make extra copies. One mouse click will link each document to a particular stack or category of documents. Another mouse click will link the same document to another category, and you can link it to as many categories as you wish, one mouse click at a time. You can do this with all 6,250 documents, and place each of them in as many stacks as is appropriate. You need not create any extra paper to complete this step, nor any yellow sticky notes to lose, nor any stacks of paper to keep separated from all the other paper in your office.

Step 3 - One mouse click per custom tag field will sort each stack of documents into chronological order. This will take a few seconds.

Step 4 - Click on the reports icon in the database and indicate what you want included in the report, then click to have a report generated which prepares an index for you. Then click on the print button to obtain a hard copy of the index. Do this for each of your custom tag fields and you will have the indexes you need for each category of documents. This will take a few seconds of your time, but you can then do other things while the indexes are printing.

Step 5 - Every document image is already linked to each document number, Bates number(s) and date, and the cost is included in Step 2. The image is always just one mouse click away when you need it.

Step 6 - We could keep going. For example:

Date Ranges - How long would it take to locate every document dated from one date to another date out of each stack of documents, or even out of your entire universe of documents, if you do it with paper?

Logistics - How many boxes do you want to load in your car (truck) to take with you when you want to work on the road, at home, at another attorney’s office, at your client’s office, at a court hearing? Would you rather just carry a couple of CD’s with you and pop them into your laptop or desktop computer when you want to work with the documents?

Travel - Do you really want to lug all that paper with you everywhere you travel, and is the paper readily and conveniently accessible on the plane?

More Business - Use your newly discovered efficiencies and cost savings as a marketing tool and generate more business for yourself and your law firm. Your clients, and your law firm, will love it. Oh yes, one more benefit to consider. Your paralegals, legal assistants and associate attorneys will be a lot happier and be around to help you a lot longer. They know that technology is available to help them do their jobs, and they don’t like doing the mindless tasks that result from not using technology. The bottom line is that everyone benefits when you use advanced technology like databases to manage discovery.

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