Careers in E-Discovery

Vol. 16 No. 7

By

Susanna Brennan is an attorney and recruitment director in Detroit, Michigan, for Kelly Law Registry, a national legal placement firm.

Much like technology, e-discovery—and how it affects document review attorneys—changes rapidly. Working on a document review project has evolved from a simple, temporary job to one that involves efficient document review in a fast-paced, high-tech environment.

Project Availability

An ideal document reviewer is available to take on intense projects. A typical project is one to one-and-a-half months long and requires working full time or more at a project center or at the client’s location between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., and sometimes on weekends as a deadline looms. Attorneys on these types of reviews typically do not have an active law practice. Being on site is especially important for receiving project updates and any changes in the case or the review guidelines.

Document Review Experience

Attorneys with experience with one or more review tools (e.g., Summation, Concordance, Applied Discovery) are increasingly in demand for projects, which can move along faster if reviewers only need a quick refresher in the software. Experienced reviewers can sometimes choose which projects they’d like to join. Attorneys who can temporarily live in other cities can work in markets that pay higher hourly rates than those in their home city. Those who can review and translate documents in foreign languages, such as Japanese or Chinese, are in even greater demand in terms of hourly rate, especially in markets like New York City or Washington, D.C.

Opportunities for Growth

The entry point for most attorneys into e-discovery begins by working on a document review. These positions are usually available through legal recruitment agencies that advertise positions through referrals or on Craig’s List, job boards, and LinkedIn. Those who have worked on several projects who express the desire to lead and have the ability to oversee a project can move into a team lead role. Responsibilities in these roles may include liaising between the client and the review attorneys, holding team meetings, reviewing metrics, conducting training, and reporting on progress. Team leads may be employed by the recruiting agency providing attorneys for the project, or by the company or law firm supervising the project itself. In the latter instance, these firms or companies may have opportunities for attorneys to move into project management and higher level positions. Larger law firms also employ staff attorneys to supervise and manage e-discovery projects. For attorneys with information technology or computer science backgrounds, the entry point into e-discovery may be supporting a project on the technology side as a litigation support analyst. Responsibilities in these roles may include identifying and gathering data, implementing litigation holds, analyzing and recommending review software, culling data, and overseeing storage and security. Companies or law firms that employ litigation support professionals may also have opportunities in project management, account management, or directing litigation support.

An Ideal Document Review Resume

A document review resume differs from a professional resume in several ways. It should be one to two pages, depending on the length of document review experience. This resume should list the types of projects on which the reviewer has worked, such as pharmaceutical or antitrust litigation, experience with review tool software, and the types of reviews performed, such as privilege or quality control. Highlight any experience leading teams or special projects. For confidentiality purposes, avoid naming the law firm, the client, or the employer for whom you have reviewed documents, unless it’s a third-party staffing agency; summarize or omit any other experience that is not legal or technical related. For attorneys seeking their first document review position, list in detail any experience with all software, databases, operating systems, and other technical skills; also mention any experience with toggling between multiple databases and entering hours worked in real time into a client’s billing or timekeeping system.

Attorneys who have the flexibility to work 40–50 hours a week, are experts in one or more review tools, and are technically savvy are distinguishing themselves as ideal candidates for document review projects and higher level positions in e-discovery.

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