One of the best practices in Legal Project Management (LPM) is demonstrating to the legal teams how we techies can add value.
We were having a team meeting related to a case that had a large document database in Relativity. The legal team had several concurrent sub-projects for this matter. The attorneys were teamed up to resolve specific issues. They were spending significant time searching for pertinent documents within the database in an attempt to make a case or disprove a particular allegation.
I have a tendency, during these meetings, to ask if there is anything I can do to help make their work more efficient. Are there any adjustments I can make to the database?
Earlier in the matter, I started adding the “System Last Modified By” and “System Last Modified Date” fields as the first two columns in the list of documents so that we could tell if someone on our team had recently tagged any of the documents in the list. We all agreed that these fields were helpful in seeing who last changed the tags on a document while we were viewing a document list.
However, since the attorneys were now performing a bunch of searches at this stage of the case, and not necessarily tagging any documents until they found a good representative document, one of the attorneys asked if it would be possible to add a “System Last Viewed By” field (column) instead.
The attorney explained that it would be very helpful if he could see “at a glance”, within the search results document list, exactly which documents he had recently clicked on/reviewed. He described a scenario that all of us have gone through when searching databases for specific documents.
1. We run a search
2. We scan through the search results document list
3. We click on a document that looks interesting
4. We review the document to see if it matches what we're looking for
5. We return to the document list
6. We continue scanning for another document that looks interesting
7. We click on that document to review it
8. Then we run a slightly different search, tweaking our search terms
9. We scan through the search results document list
10. We click on a document that looks interesting
11. We realize this is the same document we have clicked on over and over again because it looks interesting, only to realize, again, it is not a good representative document
In this Relativity database, a “Last Viewed By” field did not exist so I could not just add it as a column to the document list like I had done with the “System Last Modified By” field.
This is where my database experience kicked in. I told them that since the “Last Viewed By” values were already being tracked within the “document history” feature of the Relativity database, it made sense to me that the information should be able to be transferred to a new field that we could then add to the document list.
We decided that if I was going to try and get a “Last Viewed By” field created, that I should also ask for a “Last Viewed Date” field as well. That way we could see (1) who last viewed the document and (2) when they viewed it.
I contacted the service provider that was hosting the Relativity database. They reached out to kCura, the makers of Relativity, and within a day or so we had two new fields. We now add these two fields as the first two columns on every document list and it has proven to be very helpful. It really makes the process described above much more efficient because we are not clicking on the same “interesting” documents over and over again.
I have also found these fields to be helpful during pre-production QC, when an attorney is scanning through a production set making sure that all of the correct documents are being produced. The QC is a spot-checking process and these two fields help identify which documents they have already viewed.
In this instance, this suggestion helps the service provider because they can then market these new fields to their other customers which makes them look good!