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Should You Take a Document Review Job?

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Yesterday we gave you this picture from the ABA's website of a blonde LF10 talking to a brunette RW10, asking for possible captions. As a commenter pointed out, they are probably discussing just how the hell that folder is flying, cause neither of them seems to be holding it. Is this the sort of next level shit they showcased at the ABA Tech Show?

 

Not liking to play fair, we already had the winning caption in hand, provided by none other than the ABA itself. This picture appears on the top of all pages in the publications section of the ABA website, but one page in particular stood out:

 

Bazing!

You can read the ABA's full analysis of doc review jobs, but we've selected two gems:

Document-review work is not glamorous, but it is a common way to gain legal experience and provides valuable insight into the discovery process in many different areas of law. It is often done by solo practitioners looking for extra income or new law school graduates who have not yet secured permanent employment.

Document review is not legal experience. Not by a long shot. You might get a little bit of knowledge about privilege, but you could have just grab a free MPRE study guide and get the same information. The number of valuable insights to be had in document review is less than the number of opportunities for promotion.

The ABA also misses the mark in saying it's something you can do as a solo, or to earn "extra" income. Truth is document review is going to be all or nothing. It's rare that a company will let you work your doc review schedule around the few client meetings and court appearances you have for your struggling solo practice. There's an oversupply of lawyers willing to do this work, and doc review companies want 40+ hours a week.

Although most assignments are done with a looming discovery deadline, it is uncommon to work over forty hours a week. Best of all, document review assignments rarely involve weekend work. Some attorneys may find this schedule preferable to a demanding firm job. At minimum, document review work is a good way to get your feet wet and earn a steady paycheck.

It's uncommon to find a document review position for less that 40 hours a week; more than 40 hours is common, though overtime rates are not. And plenty of doc review jobs require working 6 days a week (as noted in a different article the ABA has on document review). Despite the hours, doc review still has a schedule that's preferable to most firm jobs because when your day is done, it's done. You're not on call 24/7. Although, firm jobs pay year-round. Doc review's schedule means constantly being in search for your next gig.

Despite their being some slight perks to the schedule, it's entirely disingenuous to say that some people "prefer" that schedule. They don't. They'd prefer the schedule of working 60-70 hours a week and being on call all the time because that's the schedule that comes with a real lawyer job where you do real legal work (see the ABA article on minority attorneys being "left to languish" on document review projects). If you neither advise nor represent clients, and doing so is nowhere in the future of your job, you're not a real attorney.

That's nowhere to be found in this introduction to document review. You might need a license to do the job, but you're not practicing law. And you're not getting your feet wet either. You're part of the legal process, but you're in a deadend bottom position, and legal secretaries get to see more of the process than you.

But, to answer the question, should you take a document review job? The answer is quite simple. How desperate are you for money? If you still hold out hope of having a professional career, and your water hasn't been shut off yet, no. Don't do document review. If you don't mind being a basement dwelling nobody for the rest of your career, or are living in conditions so squalid that guinea worms are a real threat, then yes, take it.


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