Document Review Isn't The End of the World!


Veronica Maldonado of Just Below the Law and most recently quoted in the Wall Street Journal Article "Lawyers Settle . . . For Temp Jobs" is guest blogging as part of the Hire an Esquire Series, The Many Identities of an Indie Attorney.As a contract attorney, I have definitely gone through my ‘what the heck am I doing?’ and ‘I didn’t go to law school to do document review’ moments. I’m sure most contract attorneys have. BUT—document review isn’t the end of the world.  It may feel like it. But it’s not.

If the only alternative is unemployment, document review doesn’t kill, but helps your career prospects. According to attorney and former legal recruiter Jordan Frankel, “employers are becoming much more realistic about what you did with your time while you didn’t have a job; employers just want to see people out there working…it’s important to make the effort to stay employed.”

Have an affinity for or a background in technology? Take advantage of your experience as a document reviewer and use it as a stepping stone to find an alternative career in e-Discovery. Compared to the legal profession the e-Discovery market is a baby. And, that baby appears to be growing up to be big and strong! Unlike the legal professional, the e-Discovery market is relatively new, constantly changing, and likely to add more jobs to the legal market than law firms.  

If you’re open to an alternative career in e-Discovery, start doing some research: examine job postings, request informational interviews and find out which skills are relevant, then find ways to gain these skills economically. Be wary of pricey e-Discovery law classes, online or otherwise, these can be revenue generators at the expense of desperate attorneys and do little for your career.  In some cases, inexpensive programming classes at a community college can be much more valuable (you probably don’t need any more educational debt).

Most of the e-Discovery positions will require a technical background, or at the very least, require some tangible evidence of your interest in the technology side of litigation.  In some cases, pointing out the litigation technology class you took in law school might be sufficient but in other cases you will probably have to show experience in MySQL, CSS, etc.  

Nevertheless, just keep in mind that you already know the front-end of at least one e-discovery platform because of your document review experience–now all you have to do is learn some of the backend.  

Veronica Maldonado graduated Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2009 and is a licensed Illinois attorney. After graduating, she worked part-time as a staff attorney for a mortgage servicing company but was later offered a full-time position with the Chicago Legal Clinic.  While at the Chicago Legal Clinic Veronica worked with pro se litigants at the Cook County Foreclosure Mediation Program. Rewarding but emotionally taxing, Veronica decided to leave. She has been a contract attorney ever since.  In her spare time, she maintains Just Below the Law, a website for contract attorneys in the Chicago area and enjoys taking voice over and other random classes.