Contract Attorneys, Document Review, Technology

Legal Technology Company Takes New Approach to Hiring Contract Attorneys

Fear not, unemployed attorneys of New York City! The recession is over! Work has arrived! No more breadlines for you, Roxana!

A couple days ago, a colleague forwarded the following email to me. Names have either been changed or redacted to protect the not-so innocent.

To: [Redacted]

Subject: Document Review Project – Immediate Need

We have a document review project for [XYZ Legal Technology Company] starting in our offices ([redacted], NY, NY 10001) Monday, September 13th @ 900am.

Woo-hoo! Happy days are here again! Or not…

The project will go no longer than September 24th, and will require you to work next [sic] at least fifty hours a week.

Okay, so it won’t last long. But since they want it completed in such a short time period, I’m sure the pay is decent, right?

The pay rate is based on an incentivized pay structure.

Wait. What?

You will receive a base pay rate of $25/hr, and at the end of the project you will receive a bonus check based on group performance and productivity.

Twenty-five bucks an hour? Why, because the cost of living in New York City is so cheap? They don’t even specify if they pay overtime.

But hey, at least you get a bonus, which — if the hourly rate is any indication — I’m certain will be SUPER generous. As a co-worker of mine quipped, “Yeah, I bet the bonus is a five-dollar Starbucks card.”

With so much to look forward to, sign me up! What do I have to do?

If you are interested in this project – please email me an updated resume.

In addition – in your email please indicate your rate of review:

How many docs per hour?

How many docs per 10 hour day?

The most honest answer I could give would be, “How the hell do I know?” Seriously, how can I possibly answer these questions? What am I reviewing? Is it a series of one-page emails or five-hundred-page spreadsheets? Wouldn’t it raise malpractice concerns if I were to state that I can review X number of documents per hour, thereby placing the emphasis on speed over accuracy? I can probably review 4000 docs an hour, if need be. I can’t guarantee they would be reviewed correctly, but I know I could at least click through that many.

All of this comes as no surprise. Legal technology companies have been trying for quite some time to make e-discovery as automated predictable as possible. By quantifying the rate of review beforehand, these companies seek not only to predict the duration of a project, but, more importantly, to use that information to structure their pricing on a flat-rate basis. There is more to discuss on this topic, of course, which I will save for another post in the near future.

So, on second thought, I think it’s better to leave the rate-of-review questions blank. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

Responses without your rate of review will not be considered.

Damn. This economy sucks.

Gabe Acevedo is an attorney in Washington, D.C. and the owner of the e-discovery blog, He also writes on legal technology and discovery issues for Above The Law. He can be reached at

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