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Lessons Learned from Managing Virtual Document Reviews During COVID

Apr 7, 2021

Like many businesses, CDS had to pivot to managing workers and client relationships remotely when COVID started. While we had some experience with virtual document reviews prior to the pandemic, it was not to the extent that we faced in March 2020. Our challenges were common to other businesses, but we also had some unique ones. Over this last year, we have learned much about how to ensure that document reviews are as efficient, accurate, and secure as if they were conducted in-person in one of our review centers. In this post, we share our lessons learned on managing the people side of virtual document reviews. For a discussion of technology issues, see our last post.

Client Communications

Communication with clients was already mostly conducted via phone and email prior to the pandemic. As a result, little adjustment was needed to switch to all virtual. However, we felt it was important to keep in closer contact with clients over the past year to relieve any stress they may be feeling about progress on their matters. Accordingly, we quickly instituted weekly or biweekly video calls to keep everyone up to date on most cases.

Document Review Team Workflow

Pre-pandemic training of review team members was generally conducted in-person, but follow-up and feedback communications were often electronic. In the switch to all virtual, we made various adjustments to ensure reviewers were being productive and accurate. This kept document reviews on track and gave clients confidence that we were closely monitoring work for accuracy and billing purposes.

Lessons learned:

  • Additional training and follow-up are needed in a virtual environment. Early on, we were concerned about team members being distracted at home and their ability to learn solely in a remote setting. We carefully laid out expectations about work hours and provided extensive training as well as both individual and group feedback on their work.
  • Review managers must increase quality control. In remote reviews, it can be difficult to know whether reviewers understand the instructions they are given. The QC process enables review managers to identify any problems with the group or particular individuals affecting the accuracy of the review.
  • Productivity must be tracked and analyzed using reporting tools. Relativity has various reports that provide data on hours worked, documents reviewed per hour or per day, and other metrics for each reviewer and collectively for the team. In addition, our secure review software gives reports on who logged into the system and their active review hours. This enabled CDS to provide clients with documentation of hours and productivity when billing for review time.
  • In short, there is no such thing as “too much communication” with remote review teams.


When businesses first shut down, we had some issues getting reviewers set up for remote reviews. Generally, this was because they lacked the necessary technology in their home environment. In addition, many reviewers had difficulties working in their homes because of family and other responsibilities. We identified ways to better prepare for or accommodate these issues.

Lessons learned:

  • Technology should be screened as part of the recruiting process. Certain home technology is problematic for remote reviews. As a result, we quickly learned to ask reviewers specific questions about their home set-up including their operating system, RAM, internet speed, and other technology.
  • Be flexible but establish guidelines for work hours. During the recruiting process, we ask reviewers about their available work hours and develop an appropriate work schedule. If reviewers need to be offline during times they would normally be working, they must notify their manager.
  • HR and onboarding had to be streamlined. Reviewers were no longer filling out onboarding paperwork on site during the interviewing and screening process.

This last year has made clear that remote document reviews can be as successful as in-person ones, provided companies and law firms work with a service provider that is actively engaged in managing every aspect of the review.

Contact CDS for a consultation about how we can assist you in your remote document review.

About the Author

<a href="https://cdslegal.com/team/steve-wang-esq/" target="_blank">Steve Wang</a>

Steve Wang

Steve Wang leads the operations of CDS’s Managed Review services and focuses on overseeing CDS’s Technology Driven Review offering. He coordinates closely with the CDS Project Management and Advisory Services teams as well as law firm attorneys or corporate clients to understand clients’ goals and deadlines. The Review Management team helps develop customized document review protocols, QC protocols, and privilege review and logging protocols to ensure that they are tailored to meet client and case specific needs and adhere to best practices.

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