Managed review is arguably the most expensive element of eDiscovery – in many cases, review services comprise more than 70 percent of all production costs – so, for many reasons, it’s important to do it right.
As a former division director at a legal services staffing group, I was responsible for compiling contract attorney teams for document review. I’ve seen firsthand how the traditional staffing and pricing models for managed review work. Now that I’m here at BIA and see how our managed document review services works, I’m here to tell you that there’s a better way to do it – a way that can save you time and money while delivering superior work product at the same time.
Let’s take a look at the comparison of BIA’s managed review staffing and pricing models with the traditional models.
Traditional Managed Review Services Staffing Model
Typically, when you call a company to provide document review services, their first step is to source review attorney candidates, working with an existing database and/or putting feelers out into the industry to find those who are available. The contract attorney company will talk to potential reviewers to understand their background and what kind of work they’ve done before and vetted them for subject matter expertise. The company will also conduct conflict checks.
While vetting the available attorneys, most providers will also need to identify and obtain a secure, appropriate location where the contract attorneys can conduct the review. Many providers have review centers with empty offices and computers for review attorneys to use, but with various cases and reviews going on simultaneously, it’s easy to run out of space. So they then have to find an office space to rent and stock it with computers and other resources necessary for a secure review.
At this point, once the interviews are completed and document review commences, it’s already been three or four days. A minimum of 72 hours is common when starting a new review project. More likely than not, all this start-up time is billed to you… and yet not a single document has been reviewed.
And, because review jobs are temporary, the temporary attorneys you worked so hard to vet are constantly looking for their next job – taking time away from your review and possibly pulling them away from the project altogether if they find another job with a higher rate or longer review timeframe. This means the provider is constantly sourcing, vetting and replacing attorneys over the course of review due to reviewer attrition. This can significantly affect the speed and accuracy of the review process, while also increasing your cost. The dreaded double-whammy!
BIA’s Managed Review Staffing Model
At BIA, every review team is led by a full-time employee with years of experience and extensive training in BIA’s detailed document review process. In addition to the team leads, BIA retains a staff of full-time reviewers that are core to every review we manage. We hand-select all our team members, which means they’re already vetted and we know their background, skills, education and previous casework. So by the time you call us, conflict checks and client interviews happen immediately and the review process can begin as early as day one.
And because our core review team is full-time, you can leverage the experience and knowledge they gained from your last review project across all of your future reviews; thereby recycling and reusing that institutional knowledge across multiple projects. And what’s more, that knowledge also helps the team spot various concerns, potential legal issues and other details that temporary attorneys without that experience just can’t.
At the end, that provides our clients with a strategic advantage over traditional attorney review teams that rely purely on contract attorneys. BIA’s managed review approach increases efficiency, provides high-quality results and ensures confidentiality and security. Our model also means that our review team can maintain the institutional knowledge that’s typically lost at the end of a standard review project. That knowledge increases the overall accuracy and speed of each subsequent review project while simultaneously driving down costs and the chance for inconsistencies across teams and projects.
Traditional Pricing Model: Per-hour Pricing
Most document review vendors charge by the hour. One of the biggest problems with the per-hour pricing model is that interruptions, from computer downtime to any number of issues, result in a significant waste of money for the client. For example, let’s say you have 15 licensed attorneys performing a review, and they all must stop reviewing for an hour or so during a network outage or software update. You’re still paying them for their time, even when they’re unable to review any documents. Plus, there’s the time they must spend to reacquaint themselves with the software after an update to understand what’s changed.
Per-hour pricing also means rates increase when attorneys work overtime. And, because projects usually have to happen very quickly, there is almost always overtime pay involved.
BIA’s Pricing Model: Per-doc Pricing
We don’t think you should have to pay for the time review attorneys spend waiting for a software update or for the power to come back on. With per-doc pricing, the cost of the document review is based solely on the number of documents that the team reviews and categorizes.
Under the per-doc pricing model, there are no billing surprises and no need for approval for more hours to finish the project. It allows for a level of transparency and certainty in our managed review that isn’t possible with a per-hour review. If you have 50,000 documents for review, the cost is based on that number – and unless you add additional documents, the price won’t change – it’s as simple as that. Additionally, many of the aspects of document review projects that normally cost extra, such as analytics, email threading, quality control checks and document sampling, are all included in our per-doc pricing.
To summarize, let’s look at the benefits of BIA’s approach to managed review:
- Cost savings: Per-document pricing saves money because it covers overtime, additional reviews of documents, facility rental and other extra costs.
- Permanent core team: Full-time, in-house attorney review staff eliminates attrition and the need for constant hiring.
- Work-product re-use: When possible, previous tagging (e.g., privilege calls across serial custodians) can be reapplied for the purposes of cost savings, consistency and security (e.g., conflicting coding calls).
- Instant ramp-up: No delays to find reviewers or deal with conflict checks, training or rental facilities.
- Fixed costs: Predictable, transparent pricing on the front end ensures no surprises later.
- Institutional knowledge: With the same team reviewing documents across different legal matters for the same company, institutional knowledge is quickly gained, ensuring the review is streamlined, quicker and more accurate.
Lisa Prowse, who runs the BIA legal document review team, contributed to this post. Read our great article about the use of technology and people in managed document review.
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