I had never heard of document review attorneys, or “doc reviewers” as we’re called, until months after my second bar attempt. At first it sounded like a dream job – they pay you to sit and read documents, and there’s always projects up for grabs? Score!
In fact, I kind of put the position on a pedestal and felt like it was the Golden Goose – a way out of the mundane work I was currently doing for a company that was about to close. Well, in early June, I was finally able to jump onto a document review project, and I can tell you, it was nothing like I had imagined. Below, I’ll outline what it is like, what doc reviewers actually do, and how to combat some of the daily stressors.
1. You Sit. A lot.
Now, this may seem like common sense. In most desk jobs, you sit a lot. My current position, which I’m on hiatus from to do this document review project, was a desk job. The difference is that, in that position, I had the ability to get up and stretch my legs when I wanted. And, many of my colleagues enjoyed walking meetings, even in the Florida heat. There was always a chance to movie. Since I’ve been working on this document review project, there is no time to move.
Scratch that. There is plenty of time to move, you just aren’t allowed to do it. Document review project managers need warm bodies in chairs, digging through e-Discovery files and coding them as “responsive” (it has something to do with the case or an issue in the case) or “non-responsive.” You’re paid hourly, and many doc reviewers don’t get up for long periods of time for fear that they’ll miss out on the money.
My first day, I was so scared to move (they said if we were gone from our desk for more than 5 minutes we had to clock out), afraid I’d lose out on a few dollars if I did. So I sat, hunched, coding, and got a wicked migraine. I knew immediately, I would not be able to stay on the project if I continued like that. So instead, I made a plan. Now I get up at least every hour for a bathroom break and a few minutes in the sun – I literally walk across the parking lot. I still get all my work done, and extra, but I’m not miserable and hurting at the end of the day. Sometimes, I even stretch or do a few squats to shake out my legs and back from all the computer work.
2. Other People Are Strange
I like to think I’m an odd-duck. Well, not think, I know. My mom has been calling me one since birth. But man, other document reviewers are strange. They get very frustrated with the project manager, emailing him every few hours with other questions and then vocalizing their frustration with his responses. It gets exhausting – mostly because their questions and concerns are over inconsequential issues in the e-Discovery platform or just basic computer errors. Nothing to really get up in arms about, but they do.
Also, some people will want to, or need to, chat every so often. And others, won’t. There are some people in the room with me that I have not uttered a single word to, and then there are three older women who know my entire life story, and I theirs.
If you’re someone who needs human contact throughout the day, find these people and open up to them. It will make this mundane job much more entertaining, and time will go by much faster.
3. Wear Headphones
Firstly, you will probably have to go through a training on day one that will require headphone use. The training is a quick refresher on how to use the e-Discovery platform, who to send questions to, what questions to send, and the basics of document review work. Secondly, I cannot stress enough how nice it is to retreat into my bubble whenever I feel like it. Wearing headphones helps keep out the noise of clicking, typing, chewing and scoffing that will inevitably fill the room around you.
Additionally, document review can be extremely mundane and boring. Loading your phone with music and podcasts, and having headphones to enjoy them, can make the time go by much more pleasantly.
If you’re thinking about taking a document review job, know that it’s like any other job: it can be fun if the case is interesting, the people around you are entertaining, or you can figure out a way to keep yourself busy. For many attorneys, this type of role allows for amazing flexibility, the ability to make some consistent cash, and the chance to meet new people.
Would I do another one? Absolutely, especially now that I know what a document review attorney actually does, and how to combat the daily boredom that some projects can throw at you.
Looking for some help to do your best in law school? Find out about our law school tutoring options.