Tailored discovery

LawFlow has specific features for carrying out tailored discovery under the High Court Rules. Unlike ‘standard discovery’, tailored discovery requires documents to be discovered in categories (or some other method of classification). Examples of categories may include:

  • Date ranges
  • Specific subjects
  • Types of documents
  • Key individuals

This can be useful for limiting the scope of discovery to ensure it remains focused and proportionate, though it can also be used to expand the scope of discovery in appropriate cases. It can also make it clearer between the parties why certain documents have been discovered.

In LawFlow, you can set up the tailored discovery categories relevant to your project, and then specify which category (or multiple categories) relevant documents fall into. When you generate document lists, you can include a column showing each document’s category, and (optionally) choose to group the documents by category (e.g. so all “Category A” documents are listed together, then “Category B”, etc).

It is important to consider tailored discovery before attending the first Case Management Conference when discovery orders are usually made. If you want to seek tailored discovery, or think that another party may seek it, you should consider in advance which categories are appropriate. Ideally, this can be agreed with the other parties before the Conference so that orders can be made by consent.

For more information on using LawFlow for tailored discovery, please contact us. If you are already using LawFlow, you can set up tailored discovery categories for a project via Documents > Tailored discovery categories.

New features for privileged and embedded documents

We have recently added two new features to add more flexibility for listing privileged documents and embedded documents.

Grouping of privileged documents

Privileged documents of the same nature may be described by group (High Court Rule 8.16(2)). A new option on the Discovery tab allows you to specify whether or not a privileged document is listed individually:

  • If the document is set to list individually, it appears in the Part 2 (Privileged) list.
  • If it is set to not list individually, it will not appear in the Part 2 (Privileged) list, and it should be described by group (in accordance with the relevant requirements for doing so).

Embedded documents

The 2012 Rules continue the requirement that relevant attachments and replies should be listed as separate documents. LawFlow can automatically extract and separately list attachments from emails in supported native formats, and provides tools for splitting attachments in scanned PDFs into separate documents.

However, a complication can arise when a document contains other documents that are “embedded” within it, for example a scanned email with one or more replies included in the same scanned document or native email file. Even though such replies are not technically attachments, they may still need to be listed separately: clause 8(3) of Schedule 9 specifically requires separate listing of “embedded” documents.

A new option on the Discovery tab allows you to add list entries for embedded documents. These entries are listed as separate documents in accordance with clause 8(3)(a) of Schedule 9. This provides a convenient way of listing documents separately without the need for manually ‘splitting’ or separating documents.

This update also includes a number of other improvements.

These new and improved features are available immediately for all users on new and existing projects. As always, we are grateful for the feedback we have had from our users, and we are proud to continue the development of an e-discovery system designed for New Zealand requirements.

If you have any comments or would like more information, please contact us.

New common bundle features

We are pleased to announce that LawFlow now supports preparation of common bundles as outlined by High Court Rule 9.4 and Practice Note HCPN 2013/1 (Use of Electronic Bundles in the High Court). These functions also enable preparation of other types of lists, in addition to the existing support for Discovery lists in accordance with the 2012 High Court Rules.

With this update, for example, you can create a list, nominate documents to add to the list (either by IDs or by selecting the documents to the tray), automatically sort the documents by date, and automatically generate a bundle of PDFs (separate or compiled into one document) with page numbers and a hyperlinked, editable index.

New features include:

  • The ability to create unlimited custom lists and add selected documents from one or more parties;
  • Page numbering / stamping of all documents in a list;
  • Compiling multiple documents into a single, page-numbered PDF;
  • Splitting  a bundle into two or more volumes;
  • Automatically create a hyperlinked index of documents in a bundle;

This update also includes a number of improvements, including:

  • More options for stamping documents with list numbers and page numbers;
  • More options for native files when exporting PDF bundles;
  • Enhanced export to Excel;
  • Support for Visio and MS Project files (automatically convert to PDF);
  • Performance improvements.

These new and improved features are available immediately for all users on new and existing projects, and at no additional cost. As always, we are grateful for the feedback we have had from our users requesting this functionality, and we are proud to continue the development of an e-discovery system designed for New Zealand requirements.

If you have any comments or would like more information, please contact us.

Coming soon: common bundles, and more

A number of users have requested a feature for creating common bundles as required under the High Court Rules (2012).

We have been working hard to add this new functionality, and we will have an announcement on it soon. These enhancements will simplify the often laborious process of collating, paginating and indexing a common bundle.

We also have plans for further enhancements to support electronic bundles which are being introduced by the Courts and encouraged within the profession.

We expect to roll out common bundle features later this month.

Stay tuned!

New options for document dates

We are pleased to announce that LawFlow now supports partial dates – e.g. 00/03/2013 – making it easier to assign date information to documents as required to generate discovery lists.

When the exact date of a document is known, you can enter it in a standard format, e.g. 19/03/2014 or 19 March 2014. However, sometimes the exact date of a document is not known. You may only know the month and year, or just the year.

With the most recent update, LawFlow now supports the entry of a partial date comprising just the month and year, or just the year. For example:

  • If you know only the month and year of a document, you can enter a date in the form 00/03/2014 or 03/2014 or March 2014.
  • If you know only the year of a document, you can enter a date in the form 00/00/2014 or 2014.

This replaces the previous method of using a “sort date” and a free-text field. Documents with partial dates continue to be sorted in date order based on the partial date information provided.

You can also specify a custom date value for the date field (as free text) which will override any exact or partial date. This enables you, for example, to give a custom date value of 2013-2014 or Late 2013.

You can also expressly flag whether a date (exact or partial) is an estimated date, per the High Court Rules.

As with many of the ongoing new features in LawFlow, this was added following feedback from our users. As a New Zealand company focused on New Zealand requirements, we are always very pleased and grateful for your feedback to continue making LawFlow New Zealand’s discovery solution.

If you have any questions about the new date options, please contact us at support@lawflow.co.nz

Similar document detection in LawFlow

We have recently added a great new feature to LawFlow – similar document detection. This uses the extracted text of a document to instantly match “similar” documents in the project. If any similar documents are detected, they are listed on the “Related” tab of the document being viewed.

Similar document detection can provide a number of benefits, including:

  • Detecting email chains;
  • Finding draft or revised versions of documents;
  • Quickly setting a group of similar documents as not discoverable, etc.

How it works

As with other search tools, similar document detection relies on the text that is extracted from documents. If the documents are in a compatible native format (e.g. standard Office formats and emails), most if not all of the text can be extracted. If the document is a PDF of a scanned document, then text can be extracted via OCR (although as always with OCR, results are dependent on the quality of the scan and other factors).

Each document’s text is then cleaned and broken up into sentences or fragments. These fragments are then used to find other documents that contain the same fragments.

What is “similar”?

A “similar” document is one that has a specified number of matching fragments. LawFlow lets you configure the minimum number of matches for a document to be “similar”. LawFlow also lets you flag certain fragments as “junk” fragments which will be ignored for the purposes of determining similarity – for example, common email footers can be flagged as junk to reduce the number of matches.

Limitations

Like any search function or automated tool, the efficacy of similar document detection is dependent on a large number of factors and should be used judiciously and as an aid, not a substitute, for a review of documents. For example, documents with a significant amount of unusual or non-textual content (e.g. documents containing financial data), or unusual formatting, may not produce matches.

As always, we welcome all feedback and look forward to making this a useful addition to New Zealand’s e-discovery solution.

If you would like more information on this or any other LawFlow feature, please contact us.

January 2014 update

Welcome to 2014! We have made a stack of enhancements and updates to LawFlow in the past few months including:

  • Similar document detection: we are very pleased to annouce this major new feature. When you are viewing a document in LawFlow, it automatically shows you (on the “Related” tab) any similar documents that are detected. This can be very useful when reviewing large volumes of data, and can help (for example) identify threads in emails. We will post a separate blog about this new feature.
  • Related documents: each document now shows related documents (duplicates, similar documents, email thread documents) in one place, the Related Documents tabs.
  • References to High Court Rules: we have added references to the High Court Rules on certain screens to provide more information about particular requirements.
  • More list & bundle options: as requested by customers, we have added more options for list and bundle generation, including the ability to export certain file types as native documents while exporting the rest as PDFs.
  • More options for setting discovery information: you can now choose to overwrite existing values (the default option) or preserve any existing values.
  • Improved email thread options: it is now easier to browse and review email threads by repository and by review status.
  • Split / combine folders: you can now split a folder of documents into subfolders with equal numbers of documents in each (useful for assigning to multiple users for review). You can also combine or “flatten” folders.
  • Strip attachments function: a function for stripping attachments from parent documents (useful if dealing with scanned documents sent by email).
  • Improved PDF splitting: more options for splitting a PDF into separate documents
  • Browse by year / month: in addition to browsing by a specific date, you can now browse by year or month.

And many more!

A number of these enhancements are a result of feedback from our customers. As always, thanks to our customers for your support, and we look forward to a great 2014.

June 2013 update

It’s been a busy few months, with customers using LawFlow for new projects ranging from a few hundred to tens of thousands of documents, including some with non-standard requirements.

We continue to add new features and improvements, some of which are in response to specific customer requests – as a New Zealand-developed discovery solution, we are able to modify our system to meet specific local requirements. Here is a selection of recent changes:

Easier way to add/edit document types

It’s now easier & faster to add a new document type that is not already in the list, or to edit a document type that has already been set. This is particularly useful for projects where longer, more descriptive document types are being used.

Options for how authors & recipients are displayed

Authors and recipients can now be displayed in a number of ways, including with organisation and party code included.

Return to last-edited document

There is now an option to return to the document that you last edited, which makes it easier to pick up reviewing documents from where you left off. There is also a summary of unreviewed documents on the home page of the project.

Review email threads

A tool for reviewing detected email threads as a group has been added.

Easier linking of email addresses to parties

Linking email addresses to parties (authors/recipients) can save a lot of time and effort. The process for linking email addresses to parties has been made easier.

Optional extra columns in discovery lists

An option has been added to generate discovery lists with additional information (beyond what is required under the High Court Rules, but which users have requested).

Document status page

A document status page has been added to provide a summary of documents in the project, their conversion status, indexing status, etc.

Export current view to Excel

The current category on the Documents page can be exported to Excel. This is useful if you want to export a list of the documents currently being viewed.

Recent LawFlow updates

We regularly add new features and enhancements to LawFlow based on feedback from our users. Here is a partial list of recent updates to LawFlow:

Improved search layout

search results are now displayed in 3 vertical panes. This makes it easier to view document content and properties.

Easier importing of documents from other parties

We’ve improved how the import function allows you to import documents and data received from other parties. You can use the other party’s list of documents (via a “mapping file” in Excel or HTML format) to automatically ‘map’ the information required to be provided in the Listing & Exchange Protocols of the High Court Rules.

“Email document” function

You can now email a LawFlow document to yourself at the click of a button.

Improved document downloads

When downloading a document, you can now choose whether to “stamp” the document with its Document ID, or download the redacted version if one is available. These options are also available for the “email document” function.

Improved document identifier

Documents in LawFlow can two have identifiers (IDs): the internal ID which is automatically assigned when the document is uploaded and cannot be changed, and the number that is assigned when the document is added to a list. Previously, LawFlow mainly used only the internal ID.

Now, once a document is locked on a list, the list document number is used as the main identifier.

The same applies to documents received from other parties which are uploaded into the project: when the mapping file is applied, the documents will adopt the number given in the document list.

This makes it easier to find and refer to documents in a project.

If you would like to find out more about these features or arrange a demonstration of LawFlow, please contact us.

Enhanced redaction features

LawFlow has a handy built-in redaction tool that allows you to redact documents directly in your browser without the need for third-party software.

In response to user requests, we have now enhanced this tool to allow:

  • Text to be added to the redaction box – for example, you can add text “Redacted” or “Privileged” to the redaction box; and
  • Colour options for the redaction box.

Thanks to our users for requesting these enhancements.