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First, there was manual review — the “traditional” method of document review. As a young associate at a major New York law firm in the late 1970s, I reviewed boxes of files for relevance, “hot documents,” and privilege. To gather the paper documents, you went to the client and asked where they kept files about “X” (“X” being the issue(s) involved in the lawsuit). Often there was a central file labeled “X,” and employees kept their own working files as well. Occasionally, you had to go to the dreaded warehouse, where boxes might not be indexed, and working conditions always were less than ideal.

Review was linear. There was no way to deduplicate documents or organize them by types. You reviewed whatever box landed on your desk; colleagues might be reviewing a carbon copy of the same file. Hopefully, you both coded it the same. (Even today, it is not unusual for a document to be produced while another copy is on the privilege log.)

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