Overlaying Data

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Introduction to overlays

A typical document in Everlaw has an image file, a text file, a native file, and metadata associated with it. These files and metadata values are either generated by Everlaw upon upload or supplied as part of a processed dataset. 

Overlays allow you to modify existing documents in your database by replacing or adding files (image, text, and/or native) and metadata (fields and values). One benefit of overlays is that these modifications can be done while maintaining any work product already applied to documents (codes, notes, ratings, etc.). Highlights and redactions will also be maintained, although their positioning could change if documents are overlaid with a different size or shape of image.

Common use cases for overlays include filling in missing data, implementing claw back requests, and bulk updating metadata values. 

Always use caution when performing overlays; they cannot be undone or deleted. 

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Preparing your data for an overlay

The processed uploader is used to perform overlays, so your data must be structured in a way that is legible to the uploader. 

  • If you are replacing or adding files (image, text, or native), you must have (1) one sub-folder for each file type you are replacing or adding with the files named by the Bates number, and (2) a load file containing at least the document’s unique identifier (Bates or Control number). Usually the load file will also contain the metadata information for documents and native path information. 
  • If you only wish to overlay metadata, your upload folder only needs to contain one document: a load file or CSV. The load file or CSV must, at minimum, have one field containing the BeginBates or Control Number. This field is used to match with existing documents in the database. One handy trick is to search for documents you want to modify metadata for in Everlaw, then export the results to CSV. As part of the export, be sure to include the Bates/Control number and all the metadata fields you want to modify. This CSV can be loaded into a spreadsheet application where you can change or add values and fields to your liking. The modified CSV can then be uploaded via the processed uploader to perform a metadata-only overlay. 


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Performing an overlay

Overlays are performed through Everlaw’s Processed uploader, so you must have upload permissions to perform overlays. Read this article for more information about upload permissions.

Choose the “Document sets with load file” option to perform a self-serve overlay. Alternatively, you can also select the “Have Everlaw team do upload” option if you want a member of the Everlaw support team to perform the overlay for you. 


If you choose the self-serve option, all you need to do is walk through the steps of the upload wizard to execute the overlay. A detailed explanation of each step of the wizard can be found in this article

One key check to see that you are performing the overlay correctly is to verify that the “Found existing documents” step appears after the initial step of confirming the identity fields. 


If this step does not appear, then your upload data was misconfigured and the overlay will not be performed. Assuming the step appears, you can configure your overlay options:

  • First, you can choose whether or not you want to perform an overlay for the identified existing documents by checking or unchecking the overlay option.
  • If you select the overlay option, you can then select any combination of text, image, native, or metadata to overlay. The native option will only be available if a Native Path column was identified in the previous identity step. 

Complete the remaining steps of the upload wizard to execute the overlay. Once the upload is submitted and processed, the upload summary card provides information about the overlay under the "Changed documents" section, including success or errors and the number of documents affected.



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Consequences of overlays 

Here's what you can expect to happen if you overlay:

  • Image and text files: The new files will replace the old ones and the old ones will be deleted. 
  • Native files: The new native files will replace the old ones and the old ones will be deleted. However, metadata will not automatically be modified even if the new native files have different metadata than the old files. You must either (1) include the metadata overlay or (2) reprocess the new native files to have the project metadata reflect the new native files' metadata. 
  • Metadata: New metadata fields and values will be added. If the overlay contains fields that map to existing fields, the existing values for those fields will be replaced by the new values found in the overlay file. 

If you applied work product and custom fields on the Additional Options step of the upload, you can expect:

  • Any applied codes to be additive to existing coding, with the exception of mutually exclusive categories where the codes assigned at upload will take precedence
  • The custom values applied to existing metadata fields during upload to take precedence over any existing values for those fields

Note that partial project selection will only affect newly uploaded documents, not overlays.

To learn more, please see this article about the Additional options step of uploads

Always proceed with caution as overlays cannot be undone!

Note that the overlay workflow should not be used to import or overlay review product. If you wish to import review product, use the special purpose review product import tool. You can learn more about this tool in this article


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