The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: The Continued Advantages of Old School Managed Document Review

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With the increasing sophistication of information governance solutions, finely tuned algorithms for data management, and widespread judicial acceptance of technology assisted review (TAR), eDiscovery and document review methodologies are evolving at a frenetic pace. However, while concentrating on technology solutions and innovative approaches for reigning in the explosion of ESI will be essential for nearly all law firms and legal teams, it’s also important to not lose sight of the importance and reliability of traditional, tried and true eDiscovery processes, including attorney-driven managed document review.

Setting human eyes on documents is still the best way to ensure that key case-centered facts, sophisticated legal concepts, nuance of language, and legal privilege are appropriately considered. Though perhaps less glamorous and certainly less cutting-edge, solid frameworks for consistent, refined, and reliable managed review teams and processes are still the best means to ensure judicial scrutiny and a comfortably defensible eDiscovery process. Moreover, managed review teams can easily adapt workflows and offer on-the-fly versatility that technology often cannot. Thoughtfully assembled managed review teams can be sufficiently tasked with identifying personal data and PII in document sets, supporting subject access requests under the GDPR, and ascertaining the nature and extent of a data breach. In addition, experienced and well-trained teams are still an integral piece in seed set review and document categorization examination in continuous active-learning TAR protocols.

While it’s true that the best eDiscovery and managed review providers may utilize analytics and other technology solutions in as many as 90% of matters, integrating document review in a high quality, accurate, cost-effective, and cost-predictable way is continually important, particularly in complex cases. And even with the increasing acceptance and use of technology, the methodology for building successfully document review teams has retained deep roots in well-honed staffing processes, diligent training and workflow preparation, real-time quality controls, and reporting protocols well attuned to the needs of a particular client, unique matter, and specific circumstance. The more the technology evolves and data sets of ESI explode, the more these road-tested concepts can continually be relied upon again and again to increase review pace, identify efficiencies, and continually save clients’ money.

There is much more to managed document review than determining relevancy, and assembling efficient, experienced, and focused review teams continues to be a must for holistic eDiscovery problem-solving.

Written by Ryan Costello, Esq., CIPP/E, Operations Manager, eTERA Consulting in Europe.  Ryan can be reached at

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