Review Stages - How To Prepare Documents For Production Using Review Stages

DISCO helps you to manage and organize large reviews using the Review Stages feature. By organizing documents into review “stages,” you can control user access to each stage, customize the review decisions, and monitor the progress of each stage. This article will cover how to incorporate Review Stages into your process of preparing documents for production to the other side.

Collect, Search and Prioritize

Begin by collecting documents from your client and send the data to DISCO for processing and ingest. During ingest, DISCO strategically deduplicates your documents, extracts OCR data from each one, and identifies family and conversation relationships among all applicable documents (Read More >).

Once your ingest is complete, use the search to assess, mass tag, and cull your collection appropriately. Once your documents have been groomed, you’re ready to create your review stages.   

Create Stages

After your documents are ready for review, create your review stages. To add a stage, navigate to the top menu Manage > Review Stages (*for matters created on or after 02/07/17, you will navigate to MENU > WORKFLOW > Manage Review Stages). From here, create a new stage for your review. Common stages include:

  1. First Pass Review (FPR) - Your FPR may be to review the entire set of documents in your DISCO database.  Alternatively, because of court or agreed deadlines, it may be a prioritized set of documents based on searches of particular custodians, agreed keywords, relevant date ranges, certain ingest dates,  document types,  or any other search that can be performed in DISCO.  These prioritized search strings would then comprise your first pass review sources.
  2. Privileged Review - if a document has passed through FPR and was marked privileged or potentially privileged, then it would flow into the privileged stage for a closer look. For example, the privilege review stage source could be the search "stagecomplete(“FPR”) & tag(“Attorney-Client" "Work-Product").
  3. Escalation Review  - if a document has been marked as needing further review, then it would flow into the escalation stage for a closer look. For example, the escalation review stage source could be the search "stagecomplete(“FPR”) & tag(“escalation-needed”)".

a. Populate Stages with Documents


For each stage, begin by populating it with sources. The default source is “all documents.”  Should you choose to focus your stage on a subset of all documents, you can populate the stage with search results as sources.  You may have up to 20 discrete sources per stage each containing a distinct search string. For example, you can use a search string that limits the documents in a stage by a date range, to a particular set or custodians, or to a set of search terms. To make sure that all family members are included in a batch, when setting up the stage, turn the toggle ON next to "include family members of search results.” If you would like to include conversations and group by them in your batch, turn the toggle ON next to "Include conversations".


b. Organize Documents

Organize your documents in three ways: by group, order, and batch.  You can restrict access level permission control for groups. You may group by custodian, document type, ingest session, stage source, or have no grouping. Order adjusts the sort order within each group (if you have used groups). If you chose to NOT keep families or conversations together in your batch, you may select: family, document date, Bates number, or path. If you chose to keep families together, the default order is 'Family Date'. If you chose to keep conversations together, the default order is "Conversation Date". (Note: when keeping conversations together, documents not part of a conversation will be ordered by their family date if in a family or by their document date if not.)

Finally, pick your maximum batch size.  Batches represent the maximum number of documents that may be checked out in a set of documents.  Users may “check out” multiple batches--though if the documents remaining in a group are less than the maximum batch size, the batch will only contain the available number of documents. Five hundred documents is a common batch size. Batches are checked out by reviewers but may be re-assigned to a different reviewer by an administrator.


c. Rank Documents

Once you’ve selected your ordering, you can then “Rank” your groups by dragging and dropping the rows. Ranking places the visible instance of deduplicated documents in the highest ranked group. Ranking is important for getting the most context out of your documents you are reviewing. For example, if you group your documents by Custodian (as displayed in the image above), you will want the most 'important' Custodian listed on top. You will want to rank them this way so that if you have documents across multiple custodians your documents will get grouped into your review stages in such a way that you get the most context around those documents. 

Create Decision Pane

Next, you can create a customized decision pane for each stage. Review decisions are the decisions that you want the reviewers to consider concerning the documents within a stage.

Construct your decision pane by clicking the buttons shown above and selecting your field type.   Let’s say you’re building a typical first pass review stage.  You might first decide to provide a title and general instructions at the top of the decision pane editor on the right side of the screen.  Next, you’ll click the “select one tag” component. Once you click on a component, it will appear in the decision pane editor on the right. You can include a label such as “Relevance” or phrase it as a question, such as “Is the document responsive?” by typing in the box. Then you can pick which tags you’d like the reviewer to choose from, in this case “responsive” or “non-responsive” and the radio buttons will be added to the decision pane. Click save. As you build the pane editor, it previews the completed review pane exactly as the reviewers will see it when they review the stage’s documents.

Continue to add components to your decision pane until you are satisfied with the result. For example, you might add a few additional questions, such as “Is the document potentially privileged? ”or “Which issues apply?”If you want to create an escalation review stage, the optional checkbox “needs further review” would be appropriate so that you can use such a review decision to populate a Further Review Stage. Click Save.

Create & Assign Reviewers

Once you've set up your stages and created your decision panes, create users and assign them to each stage. First, navigate to the top menu Manage > Users. From here, add a new user. You'll have three roles to choose from:

  • Admin: The admin role may complete all actions in DISCO.
  • Reviewer: The reviewer may complete searches, complete batch actions such as mass tag and exhibit sets, and produce documents from DISCO as well as review documents inside and outside of Review Stages. Reviewers, however, do not have access to setup stages nor to manage stages.
  • Restricted Reviewer: The restricted reviewer does not have access to the usual DISCO features of search, batch actions, and productions. They only have access to the stages for which they have been assigned. In the document viewer, restricted reviewers will have access to view related documents (such as families, conversations, and similar documents). However, if a related document is not in one of their assigned batches, the restricted reviewer will not be able to perform any action on the document; they will only be able to view these related documents for purposes of context in their review.

Each time you add a new (restricted) reviewer to a stage, they will receive a welcome email instructing them how to login to the matter and start reviewing.

Manage Access to Groups

Within the context of each review stage, user access to particular subsets of documents can also be limited.  This is useful if you have a set of documents that are particularly sensitive or a group of users with expertise on a particular set of documents.  By using group access, you can assign various permissions to control which restricted reviewer(s) may review documents within that group. For example, let's say we've grouped documents by custodian during our stage setup, and the client’s CEO’s documents are likely the most critical to the case. We'd like to restrict access to documents of the company's CEO to those attorneys with the most familiarity with the facts of the case. From the top menu Manage > Review Stages (*for matters created on or after 02/07/17, you will navigate to MENU > WORKFLOW > Manage Review Stages), find the stage you'd like to edit. Here, in FPR stage, we see the option to manage users, groups or batches. Under Groups, you will see the different groups created (by custodian, in this case). Click on the CEO’s group to change its accessibility and a select the preferred group of reviewers. In this way only the selected attorneys will have access to review the CEO’s documents.

Once restricted reviewers are added to a stage, they can then begin checking out batches and reviewing documents. Batches are family-inclusive, meaning that each batch will contain all family members within the same batch.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: For matters created BEFORE 02/07/17, a document enters "stage complete" after being marked 'Reviewed', regardless if the document was checked back in or still checked out within its batch. For matters created ON or AFTER 0207/2017, a document will enter "stage complete" ONLY IF the document has been marked 'Reviewed' and is currently in a batch that is checked in.


Track Progress*

On the front page of the top menu Manage > Review Stages (*for matters created on or after 02/07/17, you will navigate to MENU > WORKFLOW > Manage Review Stages) tab, Admins can track the progress of the review stage, particular reviewers, groups or batch progress. Within the Metrics » Findings screen, you can view the overall distribution of tags of all the docs in a given stage. Further, you can click on any tag to navigate to the underlying documents reviewed in the stage with that particular tag.  You can also filter the chart to only show tags which were available to the reviewers for this particular stage.

* = All reviewer progress within Review Stages, regardless of their role, is tracked when using Workflow metrics. Note, however,  regular and admin reviewers may access documents in DISCO through the search function outside of Review Stages. This activity outside of “Review Stages" is not tracked within the Stages progress screen or in some Review Stages metrics.

Quality Control (QC)

To analyze the accuracy of your review, you can QC the different stages. For further detail on Quality Control, please view documentation on QC here.


To produce documents from DISCO, read "Produce Documents from DISCO." Create a privilege log in one, easy step by following instructions found in the article "Privilege Log." These steps complete the Workflow process of preparing documents for the other side.

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