Reviewing Documents in Accordance with Coding Rules

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What are coding rules? Conditional rules and auto-code rules

Coding rules are rules that project admins can configure to enforce certain review behaviors. There are two types of coding rules that may be configured on your project. First, there are conditional rules. Conditional rules require users to perform certain actions when specific criteria are met. For example, project admins may use a conditional rule to require that users code documents as “Reviewed” if they have applied an issue code to the document. Conditional rules require an action on the part of the user reviewing the document. 

In addition to conditional rules, project admins can also set up auto-code rules. Auto-code rules ensure that all documents in a particular context (i.e., exact duplicates, attachment families, email threads, or document versions) are automatically coded in the same way for particular categories. For example, a project admin may create a rule to ensure that all exact duplicates of a document are coded similarly under the Privilege category. In contrast to conditional rules, auto-code rules require minimal user effort during review, as the codes are automatically applied to the contextual documents.

For an administrator-focused article on coding rules, please see this article

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Reviewing documents in accordance with conditional rules 

Conditional rules require users to take certain actions when a document meets specific criteria. While reviewing documents, if any of your coding decisions violate a conditional rule, you will get a notification that says “Your changes violate conditional rules.” This means that the condition of the conditional rule has been satisfied, but the requirement has not been satisfied. The notification will list any conditional rules that are currently in violation. Clicking “See all” will let you view your project’s conditional rules. 

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In the above example, the condition is “Rated Hot,” while the requirement is “Has Notes.” Put another way, in order for the document to be rated hot, a note must be applied. The document is in violation, therefore, because it has been rated Hot, but it does not have any notes applied. 

If you close the review window while the document is still in violation of a conditional rule, none of your changes will be saved, including changes that are not in violation of the conditional rule. 

If you attempt to move to another document without satisfying the requirement, a notification will appear letting you know that your review decisions will not be saved. 

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If you choose OK, you will move to the next document and none of the changes you have made to the document will be saved, including changes that were not in violation of the conditional rule. If you choose Cancel, none of your changes will be saved, but you will remain on the current document. If Admin Override is turned on for the conditional rule, project admins will be able to save changes in violation of conditional rules.

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Reviewing documents with auto-code rules 

Auto-code rules can be configured by project admins to ensure that all documents in a specified context (i.e., exact duplicates, attachment families, email threads, or document versions) are automatically coded in the same way when a document is coded under a particular coding category. Auto-code rules are configured to automatically apply/remove codes to/from contextual documents; you need not take any specific actions to satisfy auto-code rules. Please note that auto-code rules only apply to codes/ratings. Auto-code rules will never automatically modify binders, notes, user fields, or Storybuilder tags on documents. Additionally, for users that are subject to document access management, auto-code rules will only apply codes to documents they have access to. This may create auto-code violations which can be accessed on the project settings page.

You will know your project has auto-code rules configured if you see a wand in the upper left hand corner of your Codes tab in the review window. 

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To see which coding categories your project’s auto-code rules apply to, click the auto-code wand. This will open a dialog (shown below). 

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The top half of the dialog shows the auto-code settings for the current document. By default, auto-code is always active; when auto-code is active, certain codes will be automatically applied to documents based on the project’s auto-code rules. This part of the dialog also displays the number of documents in each context associated with an auto-code rule.

To see the project’s auto-code rules, click “See auto-code rules” towards the bottom of the dialog.

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Based on the screenshot above, there are two auto-code rules that have been configured on the project. The first rule specifies that anytime a document is coded under the “06-Redaction Status” category, all of the document’s exact duplicates will automatically receive the same code; you can see from the illustration that the current document has five exact duplicates. The second rule specifies that anytime a document is coded under the “Responsiveness” category, all documents in its email thread will automatically receive the same code; the illustration indicates that the current document has 4 additional documents in its email thread. Please note that the illustration displays the total number of documents that could possibly be coded via auto-code if you code the current document. It does not display the number of documents that will be coded based on your current coding choices. 

As long as auto-code rules are active, you do not need to do anything to satisfy them. Whenever you code a document, any additional documents specified by auto-code rules will be automatically coded with the same code. The number of documents coded via auto-code will be displayed on the bottom right hand side of the review window when you move to the next document. 

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The auto-code rule will not retroactively apply codes for all previously coded documents. If your auto-code rule includes a mutually exclusive coding category, then applying that code to a document moving forward will overwrite any previously applied code from that category.

For example, let’s say that you have a coding category with two mutually exclusive codes: “Privileged” and “Not Privileged.” Prior to setting up the auto-code rule, you code one document in the family as “Not Privileged.” Then, you add an auto-code rule that applies the “Privileged” code to all families. If you code a parent document as “Privileged,” it will auto-code all associated children as “Privileged.” Because you are applying an auto-code rule that uses a mutually exclusive code, your previously applied code “Not Privileged” will be overwritten. 

If, however, the code is not mutually exclusive, auto-coding simply adds another code instead of replacing it.

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Overriding auto-code rules

By default, auto-code is active for all documents. However, users with Auto-Code Override permission have the ability to override auto-code rules from the auto-code dialog. 

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If you override auto-code rules in the review window, your coding changes will only be applied to the current document. In other words, contextual documents (e.g., email threads, attachments) will not be automatically coded if auto-code rules are overridden. If there are contextual documents that did not get coded because auto-code rules were overridden, they will be displayed as auto-code rule violations on the Project Settings page (accessible by project admins only). 

If you do choose to override auto-code rules, they will only be overridden for the document you are currently on; once you close the document or move to a new one, auto-code rules will automatically become active again.  

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Conditional rule violations created by auto-code changes

As mentioned earlier in this article, conditional rules require certain actions to be taken when specific criteria have been met (e.g., “Documents coded under Privilege must be coded under Review Status”). Because project admins set up conditional rules to enforce certain review practices, Everlaw does not allow users to violate them when coding documents directly. However, conditional rules can be violated if a document is coded via auto-code. Documents coded via auto-code will always get coded, regardless of conditional rules. If a document is auto-coded in violation of a conditional rule, you will see a notification with information about the violation(s) in the review window. 

If documents get auto-coded in violation of a conditional rule during a batch modification, then you can see a list of documents in violation of conditional rules from the batch action card on the homepage under Batches & Exports. 

As previously mentioned, conditional rules can be violated when a document is coded via auto-code, but they cannot be violated when a document is coded directly. For more information about the difference between coding documents directly and coding documents via auto-code, please see the next section. 

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Coding documents “directly” vs. Coding documents via auto-code

Coding a document “directly” refers to coding a document that’s currently shown in the review window or that has been selected for batch modification in the results table or context panel. As previously mentioned, documents coded directly cannot be coded in violation of a conditional rule. However, documents coded via auto-code can be coded in violation of conditional rules. Documents coded via auto-code are documents that were automatically coded according to auto-code rules when another document in its context was coded directly. To further illustrate the difference between documents coded directly and documents coded via auto-code, please see the below illustration. This illustration can be found for any document by clicking on the auto-code wand icon in the coding panel.  

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The “Current document” is the document that is currently displayed in the review window. If you apply codes from the coding panel in the review window, the “Current document” will be coded directly. By contrast, the exact duplicate and five email thread documents will be coded via auto-code (assuming you apply codes from categories associated with the project’s auto-code rules). 

When you batch modify documents from the results table or from the context panel, the documents that will be coded directly are those that have been explicitly selected for batch modification. In the below image, 25 documents have been selected for batch modification. 

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Those 25 “Selected documents” will have checks next to them in the results table or context panel to indicate that they have been selected for modification.

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Selected documents in results table batch action. 

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Selected documents in context panel update. 

These “Selected documents” will be coded directly during the results table batch action or context panel update. The 29 exact duplicates and 36 email thread documents will be coded via auto-code

Now, let’s return to conditional rule violations. As stated above, documents cannot be directly coded in violation of conditional rule violations, but documents can be auto-coded in violation of conditional rules. Please note that at least one document in a context must be coded directly in order for its contextual documents to be auto-coded, and this document cannot violate any conditional rules. See the next section for an example scenario. 

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Auto-coding documents in violation of conditional rules: an example

This section will further illustrate the interaction between auto-coded documents and conditional rules. To do so, let’s imagine that we are reviewing documents for privilege when we encounter Document A, which has five exact duplicates. 

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If we try to code Document A under “Privilege,” but it has not yet been coded under “Review Status,” Everlaw will not allow us to save this coding change, because we are trying to directly code a document in violation of a conditional rule. In this situation, no documents will be coded, directly or via auto-code rules. 

However, let’s say we add both a “Privilege” code, as well as a “Review Status” code to Document A. Because a “Review Status” code has been applied, the conditional rule is satisfied. Document A will be coded under both “Privilege” and “Review Status,” and all five exact duplicates of Document A will be coded under “Privilege” due to the auto-code rule. Importantly, it does not matter if the five exact duplicates of Document A have been coded under “Review Status” or not, because they are being coded via auto-code rules. Documents coded via auto-code rules will be coded in violation of conditional rules.

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