Done Being A Contract Attorney Doing Document Review?

With spring having sprung, and summer tantalizingly revealing more and more of herself, as with the New Year, thoughts of fresh beginnings naturally pop into one’s head. Like some of us here at Contract Attorney Central, if you’ve had enough of 12 hour days, 7 day working weeks and stressfully jumping from one short term project to the next with only your short notice period by way of security; if you’re ready to use more of your legal training or even want to be done with the whole ‘law thing’, you’re not alone: there are others in the same boat. Following on from our recent post: “The Contract Attorney – An Extinct Animal?”, are you concerned about the recent judgments in Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Group and Nan R Nolan in Kleen Products and the effect they might have on your ability to work on document reviews in the future? All of these thoughts of concern for my future in the profession pop into contract attorney’s heads every now and again. Even more so on day dreamy, sunny afternoons.

Document review projects can prove to be extremely lucrative and, oftentimes, enjoyable if you’re in a good crowd. However, flirting with a more stable permanent role is at times very alluring.

One of our previous posts – “How Long Can I Document Review For Before It Becomes Toxic?” – touched upon the importance of positivity should you decide that document review isn’t what you want to be doing for the rest of your working life. Here, we’ll look at options that you may wish to consider in the alternative.

  1. Permanent position in private practice – the Holy Grail…?

Let’s face it – most people who go to law school do so with a view to becoming a lawyer at the end of their studies. In turn, most of these students envisage a career in a private practice firm, where they can climb the career ladder up to a point where they feel satisfied and rewarded.

If you’ve been working in document review for longer than you had initially anticipated and you still harbour desires to get that elusive permanent position, do take a look at the tips in the mentioned Toxic Review post and also at “How To Find Your Next Document Review Project “,which is still valid for a search for a permanent role.

  1. Permanent position in-house – the more sane Holy Grail…?

Working in-house is becoming increasingly attractive for many students, especially as companies’ legal departments are continuing to close the pay gap between them and private practice firms. Add to that lower demands for billable hours, greater flexibility in working hours and a better ‘work/life balance’ and the benefits are clear to see.

  1. In business – the ultimate Holy Grail…?

Have you read The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss? No? Do! You’ll then want to give up everything, start your own business and then hire people in the Far East to run it for you while you live on a beach in Latin America. It’s a bit less simple than that but in principle it sounds pretty good!

  1. Managerial position – Out of Law and the realistic Holy Grail…?

Many new recruits into the legal market soon become disillusioned with the career path they have chosen, and understandably so. Our banking, accounting and project management contemporaries are either working the same hours as us at much higher pay, or broadly the same pay but with fewer hours. Acknowledging that the life of high pressure and constant immediate demands on your time is to continue throughout your career in law, even through to partnership (where often those demands and expectations increase) and beyond can lead many to the very sensible view that other options outside of law should be at least seriously considered, if not pursued.

A junior career in law is an excellent starting point for many other careers you may wish to choose. One such career change option that has come to the forefront in recent times is working within vendors as a legal consultant, sales or project manager for electronic discovery projects. Requiring excellent verbal and written communication skills, solid presentation skills and strong attention to detail, the skills required by these companies seems just like you’re looking at a law firm’s recruitment prospectus. Additionally, such companies are on the lookout for people with exactly the kind of experience that – if you’re reading this – you’re likely to have!

Large international companies such as Kroll Ontrack, Stroz Friedberg and up-and-coming relative minnows such as Nuix are continually expanding into the increasingly-competitive market of high-tech e-discovery and they see this growth as continuing for years to come. Offering fast career progression, salaries that soon become on a par – and higher – than those in legal private practice, these e-discovery specialists not only work with clients in the legal sector, but many other sectors, thus ensuring wide exposure to various, interesting markets. Again, if decisions like those in Silva Moore v. Publicis Group and Nan R Nolan in Kleen Products are indeed concerning you with regards to your future in document review, a career in a vendor would shelter you from that concern, thanks to their exposure to so many markets other than law.

Gosh, this does sound like a marketing pitch, but we wanted to set out the benefits of a possible move to e-discovery vendors and go into more detail than any of the other options we have listed here, mainly because this to us, is one of the newest careers open to someone with legal (and specifically e-discovery contract attorney) experience that it merits more space in this piece.

So what about you guys – where is your next job headed towards? Where do you see yourself next if not in document review? Let us know by posting a comment below!

8 thoughts on “Done Being A Contract Attorney Doing Document Review?

  1. I am following Contract Attorney Central for quite a while now and being a contract attorney in London myself I have to say you are spot on with your evaluation of the market and environment we all work in.

    As for your suggestions in this post I would like to add my 2 cents. I agree with the benefits of a better work/life balance in in-house roles. However it seems more and more difficult to secure those positions as investment banks tend to downgrade or at least freeze their hiring for legal and compliance roles. I tried to get into the financial sector for quite a while now with no success. I have friends in banks who tell me that the new hires are regularly associates leaving law firms or people with connections to MDs and senior personnel in the investment banks.
    I know this might be a bit off topic but do you have any suggestions as to what I can do to pimp my CV which already shows some financial investigation (well doc review) work to improve my chances? Any help would be much appreciated.


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    • Hi Lee,

      Welcome to Contract Attorney Central and thank you very much for your comment. You do make a goo point when saying that it is rather difficult for a contract attorney to secure an job in the financial sector in London (and we would assume the same applying for the US?). Despite a lot of contract attorneys nowadays having significant financial investigation experience working on banking litigation and security fraud cases, investment banks do – as you rightly pointed out – tend to hire from big law firms or via connections. However, we here at Contract Attorney Central know of a few former colleagues who managed to secure (junior) positions in Investment Banks by applying for entry roles which are suitable for lawyers such as ISDA Negotiator positions. Another way to go of course is to do some professional development and add some financial services specific qualifications to your CV. Check out the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment ( which offers a number of qualifications which are useful for the financial services industry and will help you with entering this industry.

      We hope this is helpful and good luck.


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  2. Haha you guys are good – I am randomly jumping around between your posts wondering if the future is all bleak as predictive coding will kick us all in the curb, then I get a bit positive again and want to document review for the super rich in London before I my ‘professions’ is made redundant – and now you come up with the various grails as solutions. Def makes me want to look into my options now and stop complaining. First task – check out Amazon for the four hour workweek book. See ya!

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    • Thank you for your comment Arnoldi, we take it as a compliment.
      You are right – these times are rather exciting for the contract attorney community. The future of our industry is pretty unpredictable (as future is) and we try to do our best to keep the fellow contract attorneys and document reviewers in the loop and also offer some views and tips how to survive the contract attorney existence.
      Enjoy the book – it is mind-refreshing and inspiring.

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  3. Just reading these comments have been enlightening. I am doing document review right now and I was considering doing it abroad for an adventure and for a change. Do you all have any recommendations on staffing agencies to contact and cities where the market is still hot for English-only speakers? Thanks in advance!

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    • Hi Su-Layne, how long have you been doing doc review for? I see you’re based in the US, and so am I right in presuming that ‘abroad’ would be heading over here to the UK and the bright lights of London for the summer? If so, there are plenty of staffing agencies that are keen to bring on English-speaking CAs and we would be more than happy to fill you in on these, including our top tips for the best ones in town! Do let us have more info, either by further commenting on this post or feel free to get in touch via email and we would love to help. We do have a list in the pipeline of our pick of staffing agencies in London and other cities – both UK and US – but we’d be more than happy to share its working product prior to publication if that helps!
      Looking forward to hearing from you!
      Trevor @ CAC

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      • You are correct! I am based in Washington, DC. I am looking for a change of pace and something fresh. I am now researching what the transition would be like to spend a few months in London or some other major European city and continue to do doc review. That list would be great and any other advice is more than welcomed. Thank you!!!

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