Question of the Week

Can Document Review Work Help You Grow as a Lawyer?


Updated: News got out this week that WilmerHale is looking to hire 40 new law graduates for legal discovery work, aka document review. And we also discovered this week that Thomson Reuters is looking to staff a document centers in Michigan and Texas.

There’s arguably a stigma that can be attached to taking a document review job, but it’s work that even a new associate at a large law firm might have to do, like it or not.

In a blog post at Not Guilty last month, solo practitioner Mirriam Seddiq wrote about the time she spent doing document review on a contract basis. “At first you think, I’ll do this job and look for something else, or volunteer, or take on a traffic case or two,” she wrote. “But you don’t. You sit your ass in that cubicle and hit shift F5 and before you know it a year has passed and while you have amassed no late fees on your credit cards and no overdraft fees on your bank account, you have also amassed no new skills. You have made money at the expense of making money in the future. … There is no actual lawyering involved in document review. I repeat. You are not practicing law.”

Later, in a post at Lawdable, Shawn DeHaven, an attorney at Brentwood, Tenn.-based Counsel on Call took issue with Seddiq’s post. “I can only infer from the author that if one is not a litigator, they should not be called a lawyer.”

DeHaven goes on to say: “On each discovery project I’ve worked on I have been moved from regular reviewer to the quality control team because I identified ways in which the process could be improved through the use of technology. The full use of these tools allows the process to be a puzzle, a game of sorts and a challenge—every day is a little bit different than the last. It is challenging to learn about new technologies and shortcuts and how they can assist the process. To me, this is fun.”

So this week we’d like to ask: Do you think document review work can help you grow as a lawyer? Or is it nothing more than a relatively low-stress way to use a law degree to pay the bills?

Answer in the comments.

Read the answers to last week’s question: Is an Emotional Outburst at the Office Ever OK?

Featured answer:

Posted by Flip: “I’m a guy, and I’ve cried twice within the last few years in an office with my boss. Once when I was telling him that I was getting a divorce, and once when I was considering quitting because a partner I was working with was literally ruining my life. I don’t regret either instance. Honest emotion is what it is. I can’t help being a human being.”

Updated Jan. 28 to note that Thomson Reuters is also hiring attorneys for document review work in Texas.

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