6 Document Review Metrics Every Lawyer Should Know

Document review can oftentimes be one of the most cumbersome parts of discovery. Separating relevant from irrelevant in a timely manner not only requires humans with specialized legal expertise, but someone at the helm who can keep track of it all. Whether you’re managing review internally or paying for outside managed review services, there are certain numbers regarding a matter’s progress that the attorney in charge should know at any given time.

1. How many documents do I have?

Yes, this seems pretty obvious but it’s still worth mentioning. The total number of documents in discovery is the metric that all other metrics are measured by. Oftentimes, countless other decisions stem from this number. How much will discovery cost? Should I settle because discovery is too expensive? How many reviewers need to be on this project to meet our deadline? There’s plenty of other variables that come into such equations, but there’s virtually no decision where the total number of documents isn’t part of that equation.

2. How many dupes do I have?

As important as the total number of documents is, it can’t be the only number you look at. That’s largely because it can sometimes be misleading thanks to dupes and near dupes.

A near-dupe dashboard within Contact Discovery’s Vu™ solution

Imagine we collect the phones belonging to both Jack and Jill. If Jack and Jill ever had correspondence with each other, then it’s likely those same threads exist on both devices. It’s a waste of resources to make reviewers read that twice.

Luckily, most eDiscovery platforms have gotten pretty good at recognizing dupes. In some cases, de-duping can make your pile of documents significantly smaller than what you initially thought. Since so many other strategic decisions will hinge on how costly review could be, you need to know this dupe number to have an accurate read on the scope of review.

3. What kinds of documents do I have?

Long gone are the days where discovery strategies were limited to emails and their attachments. Well at least, long gone are the days when good discovery strategies were limited to emails and their attachments.

Nowadays, “documents” can take the form of emails, text messages, Slack threads, and more. Those different communication channels can each pose different review challenges that hinder review progress if you’re unprepared.

For example, reviewing text messages can involve spreadsheets where iChat, SMS, and MMS are broken into different pages, and any attached images are another page. Reviewing communication this way without mobile-specific solutions to help can be significantly more time-consuming than reviewing the exact same conversation in email form.

Now, imagine 60% of your documents that need reviewing are text messages, but you’ve budgeted your time and money as though they were emails. This will cause major problems downstream when review progress isn’t happening at the pace you expected, and perhaps you need to hire a lot of extra reviewers at the last minute to meet your deadline. Your client is mad because the case is costing more than they initially thought. This could’ve been prevented if you’d known what kinds of data you had at the onset and how long it generally takes to review different data types.

4. How many documents are in other languages?

Documents in foreign languages are another curveball that can trip up large review projects. It’s hard enough to find attorneys with the right legal experience to be helpful to your case, but finding that attorney who’s also fluent in another language often proves even more difficult. Any precious time you spend tracking down qualified reviewers is time you could’ve spent reviewing documents.

Maybe non-English documents only make up a tiny portion of your total data, in which case you only need 1-2 reviewers who speak that other language, and the rest of your review team can review the English documents as usual. In other cases, you might need a team composed almost entirely of bilingual attorneys.

It’s also highly dependent on what languages you need your team to know. Reviewers fluent in Spanish are probably going to be easier to find than reviewers fluent in Bulgarian. Either way, the sooner you figure out that you have documents in other languages, the better you can plan for that added challenge and manage your client’s expectations.

5. How many documents still need to be reviewed?

This is another one that might seem obvious, but it’s not necessarily important for the reasons you might think. “Can I get through X documents by my deadline?” is a pressing question on any lawyer’s mind, but an equally important question is “do I have enough information to make good decisions about what to do next?”

The Master Summary screen within Contact Discovery’s Vu™ solution

Ultimately, the reason we do discovery in the first place is so that lawyers and their clients can reach a positive outcome. What lawyers consider “positive” can vary widely depending on the truth that lies in those discovery documents. Sometimes there’s enough exonerating evidence to win a trial; other times, there’s enough incriminating data that a “positive outcome” is a favorable settlement.

If your team has only gotten through 10% of their documents, it’s probably not wise to make any major decision regarding the case. You just don’t have enough information yet to make a good decision, and you don’t want to close yourself off to other potential strategies that might become evident later.

If you’ve gotten through 80% of the documents, you still don’t have ALL the information, but you might have enough to be a little more strategic about how you approach that last 20%. What other information would be helpful to the case? Can you make educated guesses about which documents might hold that information?

Knowing how many documents still need to be reviewed is a lot bigger than just “Am I on track to meet a deadline?” It’s a number that tells you whether it makes more sense to start building a specific case strategy, or more sense to hang tight and wait for more information before you commit to a strategy.

6. How fast are reviewers getting through documents?

Most lawyers already want to know how many documents are still in review. What not as many lawyers worry about is the pace of specific reviewers. 

It’s important to know the current pace of progress, but it’s also important to know if you should just accept that pace or if other changes could accelerate things. Knowing how many documents one reviewer is getting through on a given day is a massive help for gauging whether or not progress could be happening faster.

There’s all sorts of reasons why Reviewer A might get through 20 documents a day, and Reviewer B might get through 10 documents a day. Maybe one reviewer is dealing with longer documents or that time-consuming mobile data we mentioned above. In that case, there might not be much to change that, your data is what it is.

Maybe Reviewer A is more familiar with the review platform you’re using, and an hour or two of extra training for Reviewer B would have them reviewing their docs just as quickly. Maybe you’ll see that reviewers are doing the best they can, but they’re still not working at a fast enough pace to meet your deadline and you’ll need to expand the review team to make it. It’s hard to glean these kinds of insights if all your vendor is giving you is one collective “documents left to review” number.


Knowing the numbers behind document review affects your ability to make good decisions quickly. Contact Discovery’s solution, Vu™, is designed to put these metrics back in the hands of the attorneys who need them most. You can schedule a demo to learn more.

3 Questions to Help You Get the Most Out of Your eDiscovery Vendor

Like it or not, legal tech vendors are often a necessary part of complex matters. There are different ways to go about engaging a vendor, and some approaches can prove more helpful than others. While it’s easy to get swept up in a major litigation or investigation, we like to think that in-depth conversations with vendors are never a waste of time. At least, it’s not if you’re doing them right.

There are certain topics you may have never thought to bring up with your vendor before, but you might be pleasantly surprised where you end up if only you ask the right questions. In that spirit, we’re spotlighting three questions that will help you get more out of your vendor partnerships and why we think they’re important.

1. How Have You Handled Similar Matters for Other Clients?

It’s common for clients to enter into a vendor contract with certain expectations. One of the issues with this is that a client’s idea of what a vendor should do is oftentimes heavily based on how other vendors have handled those matters in the past. That begs the question… If you were satisfied with how that other vendor did things before, why did you seek out a new vendor for this matter?

Asking your vendor “How have you handled similar matters for other clients?” is a great way to signal that you’re open to other solutions beyond the predictable ones you’re used to. A vendor rightfully won’t reveal any identifying details about those other clients, but they can usually give you a general gist of other options on the table. It also mitigates risk if you know they’ve actually implemented the proposed solution before.

Try not to approach vendors with a preconceived notion of how they should handle your project. Instead, describe the project and your goals in as much detail as possible, and ask them what they think makes the most sense. If they’re worth their salt, you’ll probably find their perspective valuable regardless of whether or not you go with their exact plan.

2. Can You Present Several Approaches to This Matter That Would Still Work?

Oftentimes, there’s no “right answer” in eDiscovery. Good vendors can offer several different plans with different pros and cons and then leave the choice up to you. Maybe Strategy 1 is a prudent strategy that conserves budget while maximizing efficiency and Strategy 2 requires a higher investment but would provide for a more thorough approach.

Sometimes vendors will pitch a discovery plan not because they think it’s the best strategy, but because they think it’s the strategy their client wants to hear. Asking for multiple plans can give your vendor the freedom to strut their stuff and come up with a more innovative,  unconventional approach without the fear of losing a more conservative client. If you let them pitch you the “safe” strategy as well as the unexpected-but-potentially-better strategy, you negate that risk for them. The ultimate choice will still be up to you.

It can also reveal a LOT about a vendor if they’re unable to come up with more than one way to approach a problem. When vendors are consistently looking to their clients for guidance, or trying to fit square peg clients into the same round holes, it calls into the question whether they’re truly “experts” in eDiscovery. On the other hand, a vendor who can give you several possible approaches probably knows how to think creatively about your case, and will be able to quickly adapt to your needs should you decide to switch up your strategy later.

3. How Will Your Plan Help Me With Future Matters?

Truly great discovery work doesn’t just leave you with a positive outcome in this specific case. It also helps you win future cases. When you know which information is most relevant and it’s stored in places where the right people can easily recall it, you don’t have to devote as many resources to discovery if a similar case comes up again.

Some vendors are content to just process your data, give it back to you, then move on to the next client. That’s not exactly wrong, they’ve done everything they agreed to do for you; however, they could’ve done even more and established a plan for the future if only you’d asked.

Some data might not be relevant for the case at hand, but might be helpful in the future. If a vendor knows that planning for future matters is a priority, they can point stuff like that out. You can keep it in a safe place in case anyone tries to bring another suit against you later. Maybe your team can look for potential vulnerabilities and recommend you close them before anyone gets the chance to litigate. All of it begins with you telling your vendor that you want a proactive approach.

What questions do you think case teams should ask their vendors? Let us know in the comments!

What it Takes to Work in eDiscovery

It’s graduation season, which means there’s a new pool of bright, talented people weighing career options. Whether your background is in technology, business, or law, the world of eDiscovery offers ample opportunity to spread your wings.

We asked the Contact Discovery Team what kind of advice they’d give to their younger selves first starting in the industry. A few common themes emerged from their answers.

As more and more lawyers and new law grads consider careers outside traditional Big Firm Life, we thought it would be nice to offer up some advice to people considering a career in eDiscovery.

Always Be Learning

You are not going to learn everything in the first month. As technology advances so will our workflows. We will always be learning!”

– Justin, eDiscovery data engineer

One of the themes among the Contact team was the emphasis on continuous learning. eDiscovery is a great field for people who tend to be naturally curious anyway, and oftentimes the best discoverers lean into that.

A life-long learner mentality is an asset in a wide array of career paths, but eDiscovery is unique in that it’s the intersection of very different fields. Law, technology, and business can attract very different types of people; eDiscovery requires you to understand all three areas well enough to navigate between them and balance the concerns of all three.

CEO Dave DiGiovanni emphasized the importance of learning about all these areas rather than being a techie in law, or a lawyer in tech.

“There is as much to learn about litigation as there is about technology,” says DiGiovanni. “Don’t favor one over the other and balance your understanding of tech with your understanding of client business process.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions.  

If you don’t understand, ask for clarification… This is how you learn.”

Krista, Senior Director of Business Development

eDiscovery has a steeper-than-average learning curve, and most people don’t get a lot of formal education about it in school. That means almost everyone you work with has been “the new kid” before. They’re unlikely to judge you while you’re in the earlier stages of your eDiscovery career.  

“Both within Contact, and in the larger eDiscovery community, everyone is eager to answer questions and help you however they can,” says Anne Butcher, Digital Brand Specialist. “Any fear I had that asking questions would make me look stupid went away quickly. People are so warm and welcoming.”

Again, lean into your own curiosity. Your co-workers will admire you for it.

Be Ready to Adapt

“Change is the only constant. Be flexible.”

Sean, Lead Software Architect

Every case is different. Even within a single case, strategies can change as cases go on longer and longer. Laws change. Technology changes. Laws sometimes change precisely because of technological changes, and vice versa.

There’s so many variables that go into each decision at every stage of discovery. The variables that mattered most last week might not be the variables that matter most this week. It’s a business that keeps people on their toes, and for some that’s part of the fun. The fast pace of change does mean that adaptability isn’t optional, it’s a requirement.

“Learn the fundamentals (both legal and technological) because that’s what will never change,” says Director of Project Management Zack Schanz. “Be ready to keep learning because everything else is always evolving.”

Those who are quick to adapt to new evolvements can also have significant advantages over those that don’t. Assistant Director of Project Management Michael Fuchs reflects on the how much eDiscovery has changed since he first started.

“I’m probably aging myself but when I started it was all photocopying, scanning, and printing hard copy documents,” says Fuchs. “Even when electronic documents started to come into play people chose to print and review paper. eDiscovery and processing was sort of a niche at first and it paid off for those who recognized its significance and adopted it early.”

Keep an ear to the ground for new industry developments. In just a few years, we’ve seen sizable upticks in the adoption of cloud-based discovery, artificial intelligence, and collaboration platforms replacing traditional email. What will the future hold? No one knows, but it’s safe to assume that those who can adapt sooner rather than later will be the ones that thrive.

Lawyer March Madness: Voting Round 4

Help us decide which lawyer would be the ultimate eDiscovery partner! Final Four voting is now closed. Follow us on social media to make sure you’re in the loop when championship voting goes live, and don’t forget to use the #LawyerMarchMadness hashtag to argue the case for your favorite!

Lawyer March Madness: Round 3 Voting

Help us decide which lawyer would be the ultimate eDiscovery partner! Voting for the Elite 8 is now closed, but Final Four voting is open here until 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 31. Follow us on social media to make sure you’re in the loop, and don’t forget to use the #LawyerMarchMadness hashtag to argue the case for your favorite!

Lawyer March Madness: Who’s on the Docket?

It’s that time of year again: March Madness! Voting for Round 1 is open until Monday, March 22, at 12 p.m. eastern. Familiarize yourself with the field of contestants and start rallying your friends to vote for your favorite. Be sure to tag your social media posts as #LawyerMarchMadness so you can argue the case for your favorites with other voters. Click here to vote!

Want a reminder every time a new round of voting starts? Send us your contact info and we’ll make sure you stay in the loop on all things #LawyerMarchMadness related.

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How Contact Discovery Works From Home

March 2021 marks one year since… well… March 2020. A year ago, the world was disrupted by COVID-19 and many of us had to rethink how we work. We had to come up with creative ways for work and life to coexist. Here at Contact, we have a good mix of people who have adjusted to Work-From-Home life over the last year as well as many who have worked remotely for years. Here are some of our tips on how to make the most of working from home and maintain your sanity all at the same time.

Zack Schanz, Director of Project Management

“Focus on the benefits of a lack of commuting and not the negatives of feeling cooped up. Try to physically separate your work area from the rest of your life to the best of your ability so you can spend time working when you want/need to and get away from work at other times.”

James Whitehead, Associate Director of Digital Forensics

“We setup a lunch counter in our basement bar. We make sure to actually take a short walk around the house to the lunch counter once a week.”

Krista Mayer, Senior Director of Business Development

“Prioritize your work day and give yourself time to decompress- go for a walk, talk to a friend or coworker.”

Scott Keeble, Director of eDiscovery Operations

“Get a stand up desk and a Sonos speaker!”

Safira, Accounting & HR Manager

“Keep your work space zen-like. Have a good playlist, coffee, and diffuse lavender at all times.”

Justin, eDiscovery Data Engineer

“Working from home all day makes me feel cooped up. I like to go out and hit the gym or grab a bite to eat after my work day!”

Anne, Digital Brand Specialist

“Make time to eat well, exercise, and sleep. It’s easy to feel like you don’t have time for breaks when there’s a lot of work to do, but you can’t live off of iced coffee and protein bars. Believe me, I’ve tried.”

Sam, Senior Project Manager

“I have been working from home for 5 years now, so as a pro… here are a few tips.

  1. Set a routine (I walk my dog in the morning, stretch a little, and try to have my coffee before I get online.)
  2. Try to avoid working from the couch! It’s bad for your neck and back.
  3. Set up a workstation to help you get in the zone! It’s hard to do that from your couch or bed. You also need to get out of the zone and take mental breaks even if your workstation is 10 feet away, close that door!
  4. Change our of your pajamas! I’m not saying change into a suit, but I change out of my pajamas into another pair of sweats and it helps!
  5. Take a scheduled 10-15 minute walk outside (weather permitted). Usually I take my dog on a walk to grab my afternoon coffee! (physical exercise and supporting local businesses all in one!)”

Mike, Associate Director of Project Management

“Set boundaries and try to follow a routine. Personal time should be considered a requirement not a luxury.”

Sean, Lead Software Architect

“Make time to call friends and family and for mental and physical activities other than arm curls from beer mugs, wine goblets, and shot glasses. e.g. weight training, running, board games, reading non-technical material, and just doing nothing for a while, etc.; however, I am still doing arm curls, I need to practice more of what I suggest.”

Tyler, eDiscovery Data Engineer

“Be sure to take a couple of minutes here and there to stand up and move around, it’s easy to feel cramped.”

Anthony, Lead eDiscovery Data Engineer

“Buy a stand up desk and get dressed for work like you’re going into a professional setting. Nothing kills motivation like a pair of sweatpants.”

Scott, Chief Operating Officer

“Find a place away from your kids. Stay away from the kitchen. Take breaks.”

Dave, Chief Executive Officer

“Find your space and use it for work. Don’t try to operate at the kitchen table or have fun time in your office. By commuting ‘to work’ inside your house my family and I are able to achieve a sense of “work normal” that you never realized you actually miss.”

Ashleigh, Director of Business Development

“Plan out your week. Set up a schedule and take breaks.”

Shayna, Director of Business Development

“My coping mechanisms? Pants with elastic waistbands and gardening.”

Rich, Chief Business Officer

“Get ready like you’re leaving the house, have a schedule, and know when you’re done for the day.”