You can save time and money by having a defined and consistent Production Quality Control protocol, a repeatable and proven process that will result in a much lower stress level than normally associated with approaching production deadlines. This article explains some ways to build a robust and transferable set of Quality Control steps and searches that can be standardized across all your matters using people, process, and technology.
A good place to start is to identify your firm’s internal best practices for productions. This information is typically with experienced litigation support staff such as paralegals and staff attorneys – the conscientious types who have seen it all when it comes to productions. Getting these individuals together to collaborate on best practices is essential to developing a good production QC process.
Most QC Processes start with Privilege QC, but it’s also important to make sure your documents 1) have responsive content, 2) have appropriately placed redactions, or 3) are correctly identified as tech defects. The key is to identify the QC checks and searches you would want every member of your litigation team to employ regardless of the circumstances.
However, to have a consistent QC production process, one must first have a consistent protocol for review. While we will not discuss review protocols today, your production QC can only be as good your standard review requirements (e.g., requiring privilege coding on all documents regardless of responsiveness). We will discuss review protocols in a future article.
Once a definable review standard is in place, you can 1) standardize your QC searches to quickly identify coding issues and/or standard checks prior to creating a production set as well as, 2) quickly identify a clean set of documents that can be produced with confidence (e.g. do not hit on a privileged term). When an unforgiving deadline approaches and you absolutely must produce, having a set of issue-free documents at the ready may prevent a potential fire drill.
My company has extensive experience in developing standardized review workflows and has gone so far as to create an automated tool to help standardized your pre-production QC across an entire portfolio of matters. In addition to the customizable standard QC checks in all your matters, the tool also reduces the time and risk associated with manually recreating the searches. Furthermore, it also reduces the time it takes to run some of the more complicated QC searches, with the results returning almost instantaneously.
Below are a few examples of some basic QC searches that you can employ in developing QC Production Best Practices for your organization.
Example Coding Conflicts:
- Documents without Responsive coding
- Documents with deficient Privilege coding: Any Pre-Production Search Term Report checks (Attorney Names or Terms)
- Documents with mark-ups without the corresponding Redaction coding
- Documents with no mark-ups tagged Partially Privileged
Example Standard Workflow Checks:
- Confirmation workflow to confirm that documents coded as Tech Defect are in fact tech defects
- Confirmation workflow to ensure documents with processing exception flags (e.g., Password Protected) are treated with care