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Technology Lessons Learned from One Year of Remote Document Reviews

Apr 7, 2021

In March 2020, as offices around the world closed due to the global pandemic, CDS transitioned to fully remote document reviews. One year later, we have learned many lessons about what works and where adjustments and improvements can still be made. Importantly, while many of our clients initially expressed concerns about remote reviews, we were able to address their issues successfully. In this post, we discuss the technology-related challenges we encountered and our solutions. Our next post will cover the human side of remote staffing and workflow management.

Bring Your Own Technology

With all reviewers suddenly working from home, we had to immediately address and accommodate their varying technology environments. This included individuals with PCs, Macs, and Chromebooks; different and/or outdated operating systems; inadequate RAM and internet speed, old web cameras, and other issues.

Lessons learned:

  • Some reviewers will have a steep learning curve. In some cases, we had to devote significant time to getting people set up and trained. In addition, troubleshooting was made more difficult when we were dealing with reviewers who were not very comfortable with technology. How we addressed this problem will be discussed in our next blog post.
  • Depending on the technology deployed on a case, some technologies will not work. Certain instances required a Windows operating system, so Mac and Chromebook users could not work for us on those matters. When we had cases using webcam-based biometric authentication, we found that some cameras built into older laptops sometimes did not have enough resolution to authenticate the user. At a time when there was a global webcam shortage, CDS sometimes had to provide equipment to reviewers so that they could work.


Prior to COVID, CDS already offered virtual review. However, when businesses shut down, we launched Secure, Socially Distanced Managed Review to provide the technology and processes needed to keep eDiscovery on track in a virtual environment. We provided a biometric-enhanced, multifactor login virtual Windows desktop environment for our review teams. This was customized for each matter and ensured that only those resources that the review team needed were made available. Over the past year, we have successfully deployed our secure review process to all our clients to protect their confidential information and maintain their workflow.

Lessons learned:

  • Home environments can pose problems. As noted above, we had issues with the biometric identity authentication with old laptop cameras. The best results came from standalone high-definition cameras. In addition, we realized that lighting was important. If users did not have consistent lighting in their environment, the camera may not recognize them. CDS also worked extensively with the technology developer to tweak the detection settings to optimal levels to minimize any disruption to the review team while maintaining security.
  • Technology improved as we went along. Unauthorized object detection was a security feature in development when COVID started. This feature allows the webcam to detect an object like a cellphone aimed at the computer screen and then blur the screen so an individual cannot take a picture. During the year, it became fully functional. The facial authentication also improved dramatically over the year and our review teams report better usability.
  • New features are in development. Everyone has learned from this experience and companies are further enhancing their security measures. One feature in development is country geofencing that limits access to computers located within a specified country. This is particularly helpful within the E.U. as they prohibit accessing data outside the E.U. boundaries. VPN detection is also in development to prevent users from getting around geofencing. Finally, additional identity verification enhancements are being developed with third party background check services to enhance remote security.

As noted, CDS was already conducting some virtual reviews prior to the pandemic, making the switch to fully remote relatively seamless. However, who would have thought a year ago that we would be fully remote? This past year was a valuable learning experience. Whatever 2021 brings, we feel confident that we can address all our clients’ needs with regard to everything from technology, scalability, security and finally as you will see in our next post, training.

Contact CDS for a consultation about 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.