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In intellectual property, patent and trade secret cases, computer source code review is often an evidentiary focal point. It’s also one of the most sensitive types of data legal teams handle in e-discovery. Counsel for technology companies are particularly attuned to the sensitivities of a source code review, a process that typically involves a closely-monitored expert reviewer examining source code in a physical inspection room under restrictive controls. But when lawyers, reviewers and expert witnesses were no longer able to work face-to-face due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, liabilities and health concerns, the standard procedures for source code review were taken off the table. Still, cases had to continue.

Over the past year, lawyers and legal service providers have demonstrated tremendous adaptability in overcoming countless challenges and obstacles. Solutions to enable secure remote collection and document review have been tested and proven. Legal teams refreshed workflows and shifted the ways they collaborate to regain a semblance of normalcy while working remotely. Courts were taken virtual. Yet in high-stakes litigation, when highly sensitive documents containing source code and other critical information have been on the line, out-of-the-box virtual review solutions simply haven’t provided the safeguards necessary to ensure IP isn’t stolen or inadvertently leaked.

Lawyers aren’t security experts, so the restrictions and access controls involved in getting this right are likely uncharted territory for most. As a starting point, counsel can use the following checklist of controls and capabilities that must be implemented in order to replicate the protection of in-person oversight in a remote review setting.

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