I was reading Above The Law and saw an interesting headline, Dancing The Pole. I had to read it–it sounded so People magazine-ish. You can read the article yourself, but here was the piece that got my attention:
My client’s concise estimate of her second year at a big law firm:
For months, the “career” consisted of 1/3 idleness, 1/3 word-processing, and 1/3 pointless research. That morphed over time into “managing” doc review, which morphed into doing doc review, which translated into odious hours staring at odious documents on a computer and clicking “responsive/relevant” “privileged” or some euphemism for “embarrassing.” According to rumors at her firm, there’s juicy stuff squirreled away in electronic nooks and crannies – most notoriously, emails from execs hiring hookers. To date, my client’s experience of “doing doc review” has matched the edge of your seat excitement of watching drywall compound discharge moisture.
“There are days I want to scream, ‘Who are we fooling?!’” she remonstrated. (Granted, there wasn’t much use remonstrating with me, since I’m her therapist. Sometimes you just need to remonstrate – to demonstrate you can remonstrate.) “This isn’t a career – it isn’t even a job. It’s a joke. Every day I think about quitting.”
Where to begin with the implications. One has to wonder how representative this person is of the others doing the document review. Are half like this woman? A quarter? All? Second, what is the impact on the quality of the review of having people like this (certainly she is not unique) doing the review? Third, what kind of quality control is in place to overcome the extraordinary level of resentment reflected in the comments?
What’s the client paying for this review? Having your 160K lawyers do a review is hardly cheap.
One conclusion is that no matter how law firms try to package their "document review" services, the quality has to be somewhat suspect if there are not protocols in place to deal with people who are more or less like the woman in the Pole Dancing story. Do you know how this issue is dealt with? Does your firm even acknowledge it?