A Reader’s Letter by Ron Friedmann in Law Technology News (Jan 2007), published as Keep EDD Vendors From Crashing and Burning.
To the Editor of Law Technology News:
The October  issue has an excellent roundtable discussion, “Worst Case Scenario,” [Who’s to Blame When EDD Vendors Go Boom?] about what lawyers must do to ensure that EDD processing works. Not addressed is an equally interesting question: What is the duty of care for lawyers reviewing documents?
In the article, Arkfeld, Ball and Speros answer “Who is responsible when you delegate EDD and things go awry?” Arkfeld holds lawyers to the highest standards of due diligence concerning vendors. He argues that:
Were Arkfeld’s approach applied to how lawyers designate privilege and responsiveness, I suspect that many lawyer review processes would fail.
Let’s start by looking at a simpler task: objective coding of data such as author and date. Vendors do not promise 100 percent accuracy. Historically, accuracy much above 98 percent required double keying.
So how accurate is the lawyer review process? In my view, ensuring accuracy requires statistical techniques. Subsets of documents must be compared to the “correct answers.” The correct answer probably requires a team of experienced lawyers to agree on the designation for the selected documents. A statistically significant sample for each reviewer should be analyzed. The problem is, the statistics only tell you how bad the problem is — they don’t help fix it.
As law firms wake up to the potential problems vendors can cause, they should not shirk from the problems inherent in typical document reviews.
The implications of this article for vendor management are startling enough.
Perhaps a future roundtable will discuss, “Who is responsible when lawyer review goes awry?” And I hope the answer does not end up holding vendors to a higher standard than lawyers.
Principal, Prism Legal Consulting