KIS (Keep it Simple) – Applying Topic Codes in the Document Review
All document review projects employ document review topic codes. Contract attorneys must apply topic codes to the documents to identify helpful, harmful or privileged documents. My experience has shown that you will be better off keeping the coding form very simple.
There are several reasons for this:
- To many topic choices can slow down the review because it requires reviewers to spend too much time on each document. The goal is to review as many documents in shortest amount time so that counsel meets its discovery deadlines and can use those topics to really drill down into the data.
- Decreased accuracy occurs when teams have to focus on too many issues in the review. This is especially true in the beginning of the project, and if the team is inexperienced with the type of case or documents.
- Including too many topics increases the need for judgment which decreases work efficiency. Remember, the essential goal of a document review is not to produce privileged documents, and to tag relevant, non-privileged documents for production.
That being said, it is reasonable, to ask the team to do some very basic categorization of the documents for responsiveness and privilege. In addition, I would suggest terms related to the matter should also be used in the topic list. So, if the matter is a patent infringement litigation you could develop coding topics as follows:
- Not Responsive
- Patent number
- Estimated Patent Expiration
- Estimated Patent Term
- Patent Issues
The point is to create a simple workable topic list. After doing so, it is equally important to write clear, objective definitions for each topic. It is also helpful to attach samples of the types of documents for each topic for use by the team too.
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