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Case Study: Global Retail Company

Delivering a Managed Review With Big Savings And A Fast Turnaround

The Opportunity

One of the most well-known retail companies in the world needed help answering a FTC CID regarding a merger of the company's two largest competitors.

Solution Summary

  1. Assembled two review teams, one to focus on responsive documents and one to focus on privileged documents
  2. Conducted the review in one of our National Delivery Systems
  3. Ran targeted searches and analyzed patterns to overcome limitations of the client's review tool
  4. Delivered daily updates to track progress, provide projections, identify trends and address questions


The Special Counsel review team completed the review one week early, which saved the client $60,000.

The Goal

To answer the CID fully and expeditiously while withholding privileged documents.

Key Stats

360,000+ Documents Reviewed

910,000+ Complex Documents Reviewed

97.4% Accuracy Rate

$60,000 Cost Savings

Read the full case study:


An international retailer engaged Special Counsel to assist in answering a non-party Federal Trade Commission Civil Investigative Demand (FTC CID) regarding a proposed merger between the client's two largest competitors. The proposed merger would have yielded a formidable threat to the client's business and the industry as a whole. The goal was to answer the CID fully and expediently while withholding privileged documents.

Business Challenges

While this project seemed like a straightforward review, the Special Counsel Project Manager pulled nearly 10,000 handwritten documents which included meeting notes, phone conversations, business strategies, marketing ideas, and personal correspondence and reminders. The client's review tool was unable to properly execute searches on handwritten documents, making it necessary to perform hard copy reviews.

The client deemed internal information and intelligence on the proposed merger as privileged and asked that a set of more than 26,000 documents, segregated by the usage of keywords and search terms, be evaluated separately. Upon initial review of these documents, the Project Manager found blank files within the document universe. In working with the review tool vendor, it was quickly determined that the tool itself was unable to identify which of the documents were blank versus those which rendered data.

The most sensitive information to classify as privileged dealt with a highly confidential code-named project. The Project Manager and Quality Control Team found numerous spelling variations and abbreviations of the code name that had been unknown by the client and outside counsel. This required the addition of several quality assurance checks on the documents to be performed within the first 10 days of the review.

Our Solution

The Special Counsel Project Manager suggested assembling two teams in one of our state-of-the-art National Delivery Centers, with one team assigned to review the potentially responsive documents and one to focus on the potentially privileged documents.

Realizing the potential impact that handwritten documents impose, the Project Manager thoroughly assessed the documents and created a spreadsheet documenting names, dates, project names and any issues that could not be coded. As privileged information was found, two of the most experienced reviewers were assigned to completely review and code the batch of documents.

After a thorough examination of the database, the Project Manager recommended a course of action to work through the technical challenges of the review tool and address the client's concern regarding blank documents. This exercise consisted of running targeted searches and analyzing patterns, including sorting the files by size to search for a demarcation between blank documents and documents with visible content. The in-depth analysis determined that all documents of 268 bytes or less were blank documents that could be produced if part of responsive, non-privileged families. The Project Manager's efforts eliminated almost 18,000 documents from the review set, providing significant cost savings to the client.

Every night, the Project Manager spoke with the client and outside counsel to monitor progress, provide projections, spot trends and discuss pertinent questions. The questions and answers were documented in a decision log and distributed to the team. These steps further ensured an accurate work product.

Numerous targeted searches successfully identified various spellings and abbreviations of the code-named project throughout the document universe.

Outcomes / Highlights

This was Special Counsel's first engagement with the client and their outside counsel. Both parties expressed deep gratitude in the Project Manager's initiative in tackling the arduous analysis of the blank documents. The client praised the team for their efficiency, dedication and hard work throughout the review.

Ultimately, Special Counsel reviewed a total of 362,900 documents. Twenty percent underwent our standardized quality control process, resulting in a 97.4 percent accuracy rate.

The review was completed a full week ahead of schedule, saving the client more than $60,000.

"A big thanks to you and your team for all the hard work."

- Senior Counsel

"Thank you for all your great work on this document review – and please thank your team for us as well!"

- Client

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