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5 myths affecting document review outsourcing decisions

Is it time to unburden your staff from handling document review?

By: John Thacher 


5 document review outsourcing myths and how to limit their impact on your business.

Read time: 4 minutes

Even with advances in technology, document review can still represent significant cost (read time, resources, and budget): particularly in large-scale litigations and investigations. For some time now, both budgetary constraints and lack of available resources have led corporate legal departments and law firms to look for outside alternatives.

Despite the now substantial history and success of legal services outsourcing, some skepticism remains about document review outsourcing and why it's best to keep document review in-house or with external counsel.

Healthy skepticism is not an unwarranted position. And there were indeed operational, management, and quality challenges when outsourcing legal services was nascent. It is also true that there exists a broad range of competency among providers (choosing wisely matters). But plenty has changed and it is past time to address the myths the persist concerning document review outsourcing.

Myth #1: “It's not conducted by experienced lawyers.”

When you choose a vendor wisely, your review services will be conducted by attorneys with extensive legal practice and document review experience. Simply vet your vendor prospects to ensure every review team member (reviewers and review managers) are licensed attorneys admitted to the bar and in good standing. Vendors should have highly experienced document reviewers with expertise in document review technology, processes, and protocols.

Myth #2: “In-house or external counsel are best suited for review.”

This may very well be true. However, the impetus for outsourcing is not the lack of legal expertise; rather, it is the lack of resources. Few, if any law firms and corporate legal departments have the resources needed to conduct a review in a timely manner: this would entail having significant levels of resource availability – and maintaining it – through the peaks and valleys of demand.

For the vast majority, counsel is already stretched thin with their daily work. And not unimportantly, the thoughtful integration of outsourced review allows counsel to focus on the high-value work they need (and want) to do: case assessment and strategy, substantive issues, merits, amount at controversy, and so on. It's a win-win.

Myth #3: “I won’t have control.”

It's always your review. With the right vendor, you are always in control. A vendor is structured and should function as an extension of the legal team (inside or outside counsel) that is responsible for the review. And outsourced review protocols include active client engagement in the development of the review instructions, training of the review team, the iterative Q&A during setup and execution of the review, and other necessary knowledge transfer regimens.

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