Document Review

Scenic waterfront of Wheeling, West Virginia. And the town got a traffic light too!

We’ve written extensively about the offices of Orrick in Wheeling, West Virginia. It’s the place where non-partner track associates go to perform the kind of quasi-paralegal tasks that you really shouldn’t have to pay somebody $160,000 a year to get done.

Here’s the thing about these “onshore,” “insourcing” operations: they are successful. Ridiculously successful. In an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Orrick chairman Ralph Baxter called the decision to open the Wheeling center “one of the smartest decisions we’ve ever made for the firm and our clients.” And that’s coming from a man who made the smart decision not to merge with Dewey Ballantine.

That’s why every Biglaw managing partner, and every law student thinking of taking out hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to law school, should pay attention to what’s going on in Wheeling…

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It almost feels like John Quinn is the one on trial, instead of Apple and Samsung.

* Last year, the TSA was supposed to hold public hearings about those naked body scanners everyone loves so much, but they still haven’t done it (surprise, surprise). Now the D.C. Circuit is starting to get angry. [Wired / Threat Level]

* Is there really life, hope, and maybe even an associate position beyond doc review work? This writer thinks so. [Greedy Associates]

* Remember the man convicted of murder who claimed that “celebrity angels and demons” told him to do it? His mistress and coworker of has now been arrested and charged as well. [AJC]

* This is a comic strip about a bear who also happens to be a lawyer. It is silly but also surprisingly clever, and funny jokes abound. [Bear Lawyer]

* Apple fired back at John Quinn regarding his declaration in the Apple / Samsung trial, and then the company filed “an emergency motion for sanctions” with Judge Lucy Koh. I think everyone in this case needs to take a timeout and cool their jets for a while. [Bloomberg]

* I mean, the trial is so hostile, the parties can’t even agree on the name of the case. [All Things D]

* Who murdered Robert Wone? The mystery looms as large today as it did six years ago. [Who Murdered Robert Wone]

* Holy s**t, this is like a real-life, Chinese version of “I’m Oscar! Dot com!” [Slate]

Wet Hot American Document Review?

We get a lot of tips from attorneys lamenting bad job postings. Frankly, most of them don’t interest us that much. Yes, we’ve covered the SAUSA positions that don’t pay anything. We’ve covered all kinds of crazy Craigslist jobs, to the point where many of them don’t surprise us anymore.

But, I have to say, when a tipster writes in to tell us about an electronic discovery advertisement that is so hilariously bad she can’t tell if the organization wants “a lawyer or a camp counselor,” our interest is piqued…

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Back in April, we wrote about Mark and Rhonda Lesher, a couple in rural Texas who won a massive defamation verdict against formerly anonymous online commenters. The online comments followed a trial during which they were acquitted of sexual assault. The multimillion dollar verdict appeared to set things right.

But it turns out there is much, much more to their story. Theirs is an unsettling tale of small-town justice, politics, and Mark Lesher, a lawyer-slash-“professional agitator,” who tried to do the right thing in a town that apparently wanted none of it.

Let’s start with news that the defamation verdict was overturned last month, and go backwards from there….

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Last week I wrote a story asking the question, “How important is it for law schools to teach students about electronic discovery?” The post stemmed from a perturbed tipster, who lamented the fact that her alma mater had decided to offer a class exclusively dealing with the subject.

The poll results were interesting. Most of you said the subject is definitely worth learning in school, despite its alleged unsexiness.

Additionally, I received an letter a few days after the story ran, signed by 14 attorneys, including small firm and Biglaw partners, tech company leaders, and one state judge, who wanted to give their collective opinion on the issue.

Technophiles will appreciate the note, although some young lawyers might find it an ominous sign of document review work to come. Let’s take a look at what these decision-making readers had to say…

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It is no secret that electronic discovery is not exactly fun or glamorous work. Entry-level associates who have to do document review almost universally hate it. But how important is it, really? Can one deny that e-discovery has become a crucial part of the litigation system?

Has it become important enough to merit its own class in law school? At least one Midwestern law professor thinks so. Read about his plan to integrate it into his law school, and let us know your opinion in our reader poll

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It has been quite a while since we have covered a grand mal discovery screw-up here at Above the Law. For a while, we almost started to believe the legal industry as a whole had finally caught up to technology — or at least had figured out how to keep major mistakes under the radar.

Well, our dry spell has ended. As we mentioned yesterday in Non-Sequiturs, the California office of a Biglaw firm handling some high-profile litigation for Goldman Sachs accidentally released an unredacted version of some files that the firm and its clients have spent years trying to keep secret.

Oopsies…

Keep reading to learn more about the case and see which firm reportedly disseminated evidence of the bank’s “naked” short selling…

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We have been covering the ongoing saga of Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Groupe et al., the federal case at the forefront of emerging predictive coding technology, for several months now. At first we were like, “Ooooh! A federal judge likes predictive coding!” And then we said, “Uh oh, looks like trouble in paradise.” And then things seemed to get better for a while, and we thought we might get a Hollywood ending to the dispute.

But we may have to wait for a while longer for the grand musical finale. Because it looks like, as of a new ruling from Monday, it looks like the predictive coding party has been temporarily called off.

So far, Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck has been at the center of the controversy. His open enthusiasm for the technology (which we covered before Da Silva ever made headlines) has been the source of much legal wrangling. And the question now seems to be: is Judge Peck still willing to go to the mat over predictive coding?

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For a couple of centuries, we thought that American elections were precise: People voted; the government counted each vote; we knew which candidate received how many votes.

In the year 2000, we learned that elections are approximations. Votes are miscounted; chads dangle; we don’t in fact know precisely who received how many votes. Elections are a human process after all, and they can’t bear the weight when we insist on precision within the margin of error.

So, too, with litigation. I recently spoke to one of our outside litigators who had seemingly vanished from the face of the earth for several weeks. He told me that one of his clients had run into a now-typical e-discovery disaster: His client had overlooked some documents; a computer system had automatically deleted some other documents; when the client corrected the situation, it did so imperfectly; the judge (who came from a government background and had no experience in private civil litigation) was quick to spy “bad faith.” Why, this outside lawyer asked, don’t judges appreciate the difficulties presented by e-discovery?

My thesis (for today, anyway) is that e-discovery is like elections: It’s an approximation, and participants in litigation (parties, counsel, courts) should understand that it may not bear the weight when the judicial system insists on precision within the margin of error . . . .

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It has been a busy week in the e-discovery world. On Wednesday, a county court in Virginia ordered litigants to use predictive coding, despite the plaintiff’s objection. Last week, the plaintiffs in Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Groupe et al. tried to boot Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck from the case, as well as roll back his landmark ruling, which endorsed the technology for the first time.

Well, despite the haters, no one can stop the march of progress. A federal judge weighed in on Da Silva Moore yesterday. It looks like the score is Robots 1, Old-school Attorneys 0….

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