First-pass document review is a relatively recent phenomenon that has become increasingly common (and expensive) as the volume of email stored on corporate servers has exploded. The purpose of first-pass review is to use a less expensive labor force to take an initial look at the documents collected in order to identify those that must be looked over by the senior attorneys on the case team. No one is asking the first-pass team to make nuanced legal judgments; the goal is simply to save the case team from looking at documents that couldn’t possibly be relevant.
Even though labor rates for first-pass reviewers are relatively affordable, the large volume of documents has driven annual costs for first-pass review into the millions of dollars for corporations with active litigation portfolios. Can anything be done to control these expenditures?