by Alisa McLellan - Inventus on July 29, 2016
This article was originally published on the Inventus Discovery Blog. We thought it was an informative, in-depth look at recommended workflows when reviewing received productions. Check out the full version here.
Your opposing counsel has just delivered a production volume. Where do you start with your review of the material? Here are some initial questions to answer.
1. What is the actual production format—did the opposing party provide PDFs, natives, or TIFFs with load files?
- PDF Production Volumes: These usually are endorsed with Bates numbers, often without any accompanying metadata load files or text files, although sometimes they are searchable.
- Native Production Volumes: Some parties simply turn over natives of documents that may or may not have been renamed to a Bates number, without more.
- Standard Tiff Production Volumes: These typically consist of a set of Bates-numbered TIFF images with accompanying load files for the images (.opt or .lfp), numbering and metadata (.dat), and text (.lst or text link in .dat).
2. Is the production volume format generally as requested, agreed, or required?
If the production should have been in one format under the applicable rules/ESI agreement/requests, but arrived in another, you may want to address that with opposing counsel as quickly as possible before even loading the volume to your review platform.
The discrepancy in format could necessitate additional time/expense. For instance, if you asked for TIFFs, but received a PDF production, the PDFs may need to be processed further to extract or OCR text so that the documents can be searchable in your review platform. You may also want to consider sending the PDFs out for coding of values that you would normally have expected to receive in the metadata .dat file, but which may now only be apparent on the face of the production PDFs, such as email header values or document titles. Or, you may need to have a single production PDF reunitized by apparent document breaks for ease of review. Similarly, if opposing unexpectedly just provided a native set of documents, the documents may need to be processed first, so they can be assigned a unique DocID and so searchable text and any available metadata values can be extracted. You also may need to have TIFF images of those native records generated for use in the course of the litigation.
Further, it may not make sense to begin working with the production, and taking the time to code and annotate the record in your review platform, if a replacement set is going to be provided.
3. Does the volume include only newly produced records or also previously produced records?
Some parties may mix re-productions of previously produced records into productions of new data without advance notice to the recipient. Does the production consist of an entirely new Bates range, or are there overlaps (inadvertent or intentional) with a Bates number previously used? Assuming clawbacks are not involved, you may want to take a look at the differences between the prior and new versions with the same Bates numbers before simply overwriting the existing version of the records.
4. Does the Bates range immediately follow the last production?
If this production does not start with the next-in-order Bates number following the last production, there may be an unexpected gap in the data and you’ll want to follow up with the opposing party.
5. Even if the production format is as expected, are there any specific areas of concern?
For instance, even if a searchable PDF production was expected and PDFs are received, are the PDFs provided actually searchable outside of the review platform? Or, does the volume also include native Excels with the same Bates number as some of the PDFs? If so, the PDF may simply be a slipsheet indicating that the Excel record is being produced in native; you may want to load the Excel as the native file in your review platform and simply image the PDF to load it as images for the same record in the platform instead.
Similarly, if a standard TIFF production was expected, and generally appears to have been received, more detailed checks may be helpful. For example, does the count of images provided match the Bates range, and was text provided for all records?
6. What technology is available to speed up your review of produced material?
Apart from those technical considerations, determine what features in your e-discovery software may be useful to assess the produced data without requiring a manual, linear review.
For instance, prior work product can sometimes be leveraged to analyze the opposing production volume, and it may be possible to efficiently prioritize or group records quickly. If metadata values have been provided with the production, you may be able to run pivots or searches in your workspace for other records with similar values.
The next time you receive an opposing production volume, take a few moments to consider what components it actually includes, what follow-up may be needed with opposing, and what features may be available to assist in working more efficiently with those records in your review platform.
Alisa McLellan is director of project management at Inventus. She has more than ten years of experience in the legal and e-discovery industries, and holds a JD from the Chicago-Kent College of Law.