A new study confirms what proponents of analytical ‘non-linear’ review or Iterative Legal Analysis & Sampling (ILAS) have been saying for some time: that it is more accurate and cheaper than traditional ‘linear’ review.


The study was authored by Anne Kershaw, an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and a practicing e-discovery lawyer. Kershaw had two teams conduct a review of the same set of documents using the same review platform. One team of three contract lawyers followed a traditional ‘eyes on all documents’ approach, while the other team consisted of a single senior lawyer and a technology manager using an ILAS approach.


The traditional linear approach involves having review lawyers examine and code every document batched for review. As volumes of ESI become ever larger, the linear approach is increasingly difficult to justify. It is expensive, time-consuming, and often leads to inconsistent coding decisions.


In an ILAS review, a senior lawyer familiar with the case and with the necessary technology skills searches through the database, and experiments with various searches and filters. Experience in the technology, combined with the knowledge of the case and goals of litigation team, allows counsel to iteratively respond to the search results. Applying legal analysis to the search results, counsel is able to refine the criteria and sample documents. This process continues through iterations until counsel is satisfied that relevant materials have been located, and the sampling is successful. During this process, the documents can also be issue coded and checked for potential privilege or privacy issues


In the study, Kershaw had the two teams examine approximately 10,000 documents for relevance. The traditional review took 98 hours. The ILAS review, however, took only 14 hours. Not only was the ILAS review far more efficient, it also identified more relevant documents than the traditional linear review.


Kershaw’s study demonstrates that iterative approaches to document review by experienced counsel can be superior to traditional linear review approaches in terms of cost, time, and accuracy. Litigators should not be under an illusion that an ‘eyes on the page’ linear review is the uncontested gold standard of document review.


Interested readers can find the study here.