While many businesses are starting to slowly re-open, for most lawyers and law firms it has been “business as usual” with a (home office) twist. By now, you are getting into the groove of virtual meetings, an increasingly paperless practice, and being flexible in the face of the unprecedented personal constraints not only yourself but on your colleagues and clients.
For a large number of lawyers and law firms, the decision right now is whether and when to return to the office. Even if you decide to so, not all your colleagues may choose the same. This will continue the communication and operational challenges you have been working to address virtually over the past couple of months. It may even bring about some new ones too.
As we grapple with finding the “new normal”, there is still legal work to be done. That document production deadline might be creeping up or perhaps, now that many of our clients are returning to the office, there is a new collection of documents to review. You might have finally received that document production from opposing counsel that was delayed due to the pandemic.
Ricoh Canada has been operating successful remote document review teams for several years. Today, we would like to share our top tips and tricks we have learned along the way on how to effectively manage your document review remotely.
1. Strengthen and streamline communication
Any team’s success can often be attributed to strong and effective communication. Clear communication between and among team members is vital to remote work in any capacity. Carrying out a remote document review can often be quite isolating. When a question arises, it is not as easy as poking your head around the corner to discuss with your colleague next door — and, during this unprecedented time, a lot of questions are likely to arise.
One way to coordinate an open flow for discussion is by using collaborative tools like Microsoft Teams for instant messaging, video conferencing and file management. This way, you can check in and hold regular review team meetings via teleconference. Create a living document that all review team members have access to view and edit, where you can track questions asked and answers provided by senior counsel. Not only will this streamline communication and increase the efficiency of your remote review, but it will also allow for new team members to be added with greater ease, allowing them to get caught up to speed quickly. Some review platforms also allow for substantive questions to be tracked within the tool itself, which can make communication even more streamlined.
2. Use the technology
You may be (and hopefully are!) already using all the available analytics tools your chosen review platform offers in order to streamline your review. Keep in mind, there are likely other tools available that can assist with keeping your remote review on track.
For example, dashboards are an amazing tool that can provide a quick visual snapshot of your review and your team’s progress. They can also provide a visual representation of your dataset as it advances including the number of producible documents, the number of documents assigned to each issue and/or designated as “key”, as well as privileged documents.
3. Automate, automate, automate
Use the technology to automate as much of your review as possible. Searches can be set up that automatically populate if/when they meet certain criteria. For example, perhaps you only want to review documents that pertain to a certain issue or want to only review privileged documents. You can set your search to automatically populate once a document (or a document and its family) has been tagged to that particular issue or marked as privileged by your team members. In Relativity you can also use the tool itself as a communication device, noting questions which require some insight or guidance from senior counsel on the document itself rather than on a separate spreadsheet or through email. These questions can then be tracked in a dynamic search.
4. Invest in training
As they say, a team is only as strong as its weakest member — and is only as qualified as their least-trained person. While it might seem easy enough for me to say “use the technology” to help maximize the efficiency of your remote review, I understand it can be a whole other challenge to actually do it, especially if you do not have internal technical support or access to an external support provider such as Ricoh. It’s vital for your team to invest time into training on effective use of your review tool. Most major review platforms offer training and certificates through webinars and other online tools. Building this technical knowledge will not only help your remote reviews now but will help you to maximize efficiencies that will positively impact your client both strategically and financially.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to collaborating with your team remotely to complete your review, but these tips should get you started. If you are looking for information on review services and how we can help your team, be sure to reach out to our team today.