This post explains three areas where legal teams are held back when using outdated review technology; data management, database functionalities and overall reliability of work product.

In 2011 LexisNexis published an article arguing that electronic data volumes were doubling every three years. Four years later, a 2015 article in Corporate Counsel magazine stated that corporate clients are doubling content every two years. Even more recently, a Deloitte webcast survey suggested that data may be doubling every 18 months. Regardless of the source, the trend is clear; user created content is growing annually at exponential rates.

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With the proliferation of data an established fact, law firms involved in litigation practice are looking at one of two options for handling, reviewing, and storing their clients’ data. They are either entering the eDiscovery business and building out their data and review footprint, or they are outsourcing the processing and hosted review to top eDiscovery vendors. One thing is for certain, there is a shift away from “legacy” review tools like Concordance, Summation, and Ringtail and a move toward more robust web-based systems with a wider range of capabilities. This article takes a look at three main reasons why firms are moving towards making that change: data management; lack of functionality; and reliability.

Data Management

As noted above, data sizes continue to grow, and managing that data requires big investments in both IT infrastructure and human resources. Managing large volumes of data is difficult for organizations whose core competency is data storage, so imagine what it must be like for law firms with other main priorities but are still responsible for data management. Managing the data in a litigation review database(s) requires a long-term, data management plan. This plan should include at least three components: considerations for long term data storage, a data map to maintain the integrity of that data, ensuring it stays in place, and strategies for managing multiple review databases.

The average source size of an eDiscovery project is 479 GB and the average discovery period lasts between 150 to 400 days. To support those average matters in a legacy review tool data will need to be hosted anywhere from 5-13 months. Even with a generous 40 percent reduction, on average firms are storing 288 gigabytes per matter for up to one year.

Data management is a profession unto itself and the proliferation of data means that firms can no longer leave this work to a combination of paralegal and in-house IT departments.

Keeping these numbers in mind, it is also important to note that with legacy review tools data is not loaded into a system. Instead, the system is pointed to the data where the data resides in storage. If the data is moved the link between the data and the review tool is broken which means images and native files are no longer available for review.

Finally, with most desktop solutions, there are database record limits. In some cases you can only house 250,000 records per database. If your record count exceeds the maximum, then an entire second database must be created to house the overflow of records. When searching across the whole case, the databases will need to be joined. With data management challenges like these, it is easy to see why law firms are moving away from legacy review tools and toward professionally staffed in-house solutions or out-sourced managed services relationships with eDiscovery vendors. Data management is a profession unto itself and the proliferation of data means that firms can no longer leave this work to a combination of paralegal and in-house IT departments.

Database Functionality

While data volume is constantly growing, database technology also continues to evolve. Software developers are rapidly updating review technology, changing the way that eDiscovery review is performed. kCura updates Relativity on a monthly basis and no longer supports versions that are more than one full release behind the current version.Microsoft recently acquired Equivio to establish itself in this niche market. While the industry is changing, legacy review tools struggle to remain relevant. Several long-standing features like relational fields, email threading, and near duplicate detection are driving review decisions made throughout the review process. Without the ability to easily pull relevant family members for a search or to sort documents by email thread during review, these legacy systems no longer meet the needs of many law firms. Making databases relational to support newer technology isn’t the only reason SQL based systems are displacing the legacy review tools.

To keep up with the changing needs of legal teams and corporations, a huge advancement with review software is analytics and data visualization. Today’s review tools allow case teams to look at data and analyze it in a way that was never before available. Analytics has the power and ability to take massive amounts of data and reduce the volume needing to be reviewed and produced. Not only do legacy systems lack the support for the sheer volume of data, they also lack the ability to help you to reduce that mountain making the review more manageable.

Reliability for managing work product

Finally, legacy review tools simply just aren’t as reliable as SQL based tools. Unless you are an expert user, it’s easy to have issues maintaining document tags. Your work product can easily be wiped out, but not easily recreated. Bigger cases can lead to corruption, leading to missing or dropped tags. With some legacy tools, it’s easy to run a search and remove tags on a large population when you actually intended to remove the tag on a single document. This type of mistake can cost the organization both time and money.

With SQL based tools, large transaction logs document and preserve every action taken by an end user allowing administrators to recreate the unintentional removal of 100,000 responsive tags.

For the legacy review tools, case management options are limited. Simple tasks like foldering and tracking of data that moves between folders is not documented. SQL based tools offer teams an opportunity to manage cases more effectively and integrate with other case management software, like Casemap and LiveNote.


Today’s eDiscovery buyer is looking for tools that provide the greatest functionality at the best value. Given the high cost of data management, the need for efficiency and the safe guards provided by more reliable review tools, legacy review tools are becoming a less viable option. Small to mid-sized firms are looking to reduce overhead and transfer those costs to vendors that possess updated technology. Larger firms that at one time were looking to insource their eDiscovery processing work are now also considering the true cost of ownership for some of the best in breed tools. Decision makers are starting to question their ability to keep up with the technological advancements, and reconsidering the in-sourcing model. As the SQL based systems continue to advance, legacy review tools simply are no longer meeting the needs of case teams and their support staffs. From concerns about data management plans to database functionality to basic reliability, the legacy review tools are losing ground. As data volumes continue to balloon, one thing is certain, document review will not be returning to the past.

Continue reading more about the document review process, best practices and helpful tips to create efficient workflows with quality output.

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