office-925806_640Document Review Pros and Cons

Document review is a growing field of employment for attorneys, especially given the challenging job market in many parts of the country. Below, a law school graduate details the pros and cons of a document review position.

For those unfamiliar with the position, document reviewers examine documents involved in pending litigation or investigations. These documents can take the form of emails, memos, spreadsheets, or virtually anything that contains information relevant to a case. Classifying this type of information is typically done electronically, and allows law firms to efficiently hand over information owed to opposing parties. Document reviewers are support staff, and typically work for companies that contract with law firms to provide document review services. In this post, someone who currently works for a document review company discuss the pros and cons of a document review job.

Document Review Position Pros

1. Document review can be a great job if you’re in transition between studying for the bar and waiting for results. 

Document reviews pays well, compared to other non-legal positions. The pay ranges from anywhere between $19-40/per hour, depending on the state’s market rate and your status in the legal ladder. Most non-admitted JD document review projects pay at the lowest market rate. Many companies cater specifically to document review. Hence, there are plenty options to choose from. You can easily bounce from one project to another.

The hours are also flexible. At my job, we must work 40 hours per week. However, you can set your own pace, and work, for example, 4 10-hour days, instead of 5 8-hour days. Sometimes there’s overtime later at night or on the weekends. The flexibility is great. You can, for example, make doctors appointments easily or have a long weekend every week! This is advantageous over set 9-5 jobs.

Document Review Position Cons

1.Document review can be monotonous. 

Document review involves coding documents with special software. This requires a thorough reading of the documents. You then code based on responsiveness, privilege, confidentiality and other issues. The amount of documents you code each day could range from 100-500! You sit for long periods and just click away. Even though you’re given guidelines to follow, you do not write any analysis on the matter. We mostly fill in the right bubbles to classify documents. This can be frustrating for most people who like to be challenged. I find my problem-solving skills aren’t used while coding documents. Some like this about document review. They don’t have to be stressed with meeting important deadlines. And they can listen to podcasts or music while they go through the documents.

If your end goal is to practice in a law firm, you’re missing the opportunity of meeting clients, doing legal research and going to court full time. However, some attorneys  practice law while doing document review. I know several who make court appearances early in the morning and then come to doc review in the afternoon.

2. Document review work can be uncertain.

Document review can be uncertain because you are not told the exact end date of a project. It could end earlier or later than the projected date. So, if there is a shortage of documents, you could be sent home early or given days off until documents become available.  These positions do not pay when you don’t work, which is frustrating if you need steady income.

3. It can have a negative health impact.

Sitting for almost 8 hours each day and staring at the computer screen takes a toll on your body and eyes. The office chairs at my job aren’t the most comfortable. My colleagues and I are usually complaining of back pain. We request new chairs as often as we can. Even though we can take little breaks in between to walk, there is still constant back straining. Also, if you have weak eyes like me, it can affect you. I often have to take my glasses off to see small type. Reading on a computer screen all day also dries out my contacts. I constantly have to apply eye drops.

4. Document review positions can hurt your job prospects down the line.

If you’re young and ambitions like me, document review is not a position to stay at for long. Furthermore, doing only document review for many years could hurt your chances of getting that law firm position. If you are unable to find a job at a law firm, it often becomes impossible to get interviews if those hiring see you have been out of school for years and have no other legal experience.

Overall, despite the cons, document review is an area in high demand. Thus, it’s a good source of side income for some. For some it is a back-up plan. And some attorneys even do it while retiring — they put in their years and want to relax while earning some income.

If you are considering a document review job, we hope you have enjoyed our list of pros and cons. If you have worked at a document review, feel free to add to the list of pros or cons in the comments below or by emailing us at [email protected] (and we will add them!)

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