Contract Attorneys, Document Review

Why The New Normal For Document Review Spells Disaster

Lawyers, by nature, are not very optimistic people. Maybe it’s a function of assessing risk constantly — with your ass on the line no less. Or just that lawyers tend to get called in after the s**t has hit the fan, so we aren’t generally exposed to the very best of humanity.

I can no longer remember if I was an optimistic, glass-half-full kinda person before law school, but surely there was some spark in me that saw the good in people and situations. I know because I just felt that small flame of hope flickering in my chest get extinguished. And it’s all because of a job posting

So what job is so bad it has me questioning my very faith in humanity?

This job posting comes to us from South Carolina. I can’t pretend I’ve spent a bunch of time in this particular heart of Dixie, but that really isn’t the issue.

The problem, like so many other things, comes down to the money money money. And this illustrious position pays all of $8 an hour.

Yes. Eight.

Sigh.

Yes, eagle-eyed readers may recall that we’ve found a job before that flirted with the minimum wage. And as crazy as it is, the very first time I saw it, I brushed it off. A one-off good for some cheap clicks. But now we are in trend mode. We’re seeing the market — or at least some regional markets — able to sustain this kind of job. This is bad news for all attorneys — but especially those of us in ediscovery. It forces law firms and clients to really question whether the added hourly fee the rest of us are collecting is really worth it.

The truth is, I am not truly worried about my own livelihood. Law firms are used to throwing money at a problem and believing that means they are getting a better solution. They are also nothing if not creatures of habit and it will be a while before that kind of seismic shift occurs.

But what about the children? Or at least those young and naïve enough to go to anything less than a T14 school and expect a wealth of job opportunities. Despite declining enrollment rates, too many of those about to embark on their law school journey will wind up clicking through documents when they’re through. And if they’re lucky enough to find legal work not taken over by the machines they’re likely to take it — even if it’s only 75 cents above minimum wage.

Now how’s that for your return on investment?


Alex Rich is a T14 grad and Biglaw refugee who has worked as a contract attorney for the last 7 years… and counting.  If you have a story about the underbelly of the legal world known as contract work, email Alex at alexrichesq@gmail.com and be sure to follow Alex on Twitter @AlexRichEsq

15 comments
(hidden for your protection)

comments sponsored by

Show all comments

Our Sites

  • Above the Law
  • How Appealing
  • ATL Redline
  • Breaking Defense
  • Breaking Energy
  • Breaking Gov
  • Dealbreaker
  • Fashonista
  •