This is the yet another part of Andrea’s very popular post series, in which she discusses the amazing (new?) world of document review specialisation and increasing demands on document review qualifications and abilities. Grab a coffee (make sure it’s not Irish!), sit back and take a few moments to enjoy! Please let us know what your experience or thoughts are by leaving a comment at the bottom of the post.
Almost since my first coding job, have I been asked which platform I am familiar with. As any of you know (but few of the clients and agencies have come to realize) they are all the same. Some have a couple of different functions and most are altered to fit the client’s needs. Nothing so spectacularly different that could not be handled in an hour or two of training. Yet, firms and agencies prefer not to have to invest even this much time in us or have no-one on staff who understands the system or knows how to train people. For a while everything seemed to be Kroll, while now the platform-du-jour appears to be Relativity. No idea how that happened. I guess it is a matter of the bottom line and whoever gives the firms the best deal who comes out on top. However, having experience on these platforms makes you more valuable and can mean the difference between landing this job or not. So it is good advice to take mini jobs, which provide such training in order to land the better ones later on.
I have now even come across ads requiring attorneys with substantive or educational experience in certain fields (science degrees, etc) or requiring several years of document review experience in a specific field. Yes, I am still talking about document review jobs! The optimist in me views this as an indication that we are slowly emerging as professionals with valuable skill sets, the pessimist says that they are just too lazy to properly train us and that this will keep many new document reviewers from gaining some additional skills. Pretty soon there will be pharmaceutical document reviewers and others for financial matters (actually happening already). As both the banking and pharmaceutical industry tend to buy each other’s competition up, the market for these expert coders becomes smaller and smaller and pretty soon many reviewers will find themselves conflicted out of more jobs that they could still obtain. So my advice would be to try to get jobs for the defendants (the companies being sued by those hurt by their drugs or financial products – they will continue to do business and thus continue to be sued while plaintiff firms come and go and never have enough funding). It will extend your professional life working these specific suits.
In the US it matters a lot which school you attended, what grades you obtained and where you have worked. We have long since resigned ourselves to the fact that anyone who did not attend a top tier school and outperformed 95% of his classmates stands little chance of landing a position in a top law firm. However, now ads look for these people for document reviews. Many still rather tentatively say that top tier school grads and attorneys with top law firm experience are always preferred over others seeking to attract such candidates outright. Of late I had to submit my transcript for the first time (please, do not ask how long it took me to crack my law school password 9 years after graduation) and I have found myself too intimidated to apply for certain gigs as there is no way to make my school a first tier one retroactively unless I abbreviate it to NSU, hoping no one notices the Florida rather than the more prestigious New York address. The sad thing is that there are actually candidates who fit the bill. I have worked with them.
So what is the moral of the story? Times are getting tougher and competition in the document review and agency world is intensifying. When this happens people try to distinguish themselves and objective criteria such as test results and qualifications are usually the method of choice. So sign those crazy forms – the worst-case scenario is that they mean what they say but remember it is only for a very temporary job and will not last.
In relation to my previous post in this series, smile when naive agents compliment you on your English, which is almost good enough to perform English document review, and do not give in to the temptation of pointing out your US/UK law degrees and bar passage, nor should you ask them to speak louder and slower while trying to lend a foreign accent to your English. Smile when confused agents inform you that you do not seem to have any decent command of your native tongue as per their infallible language tests. Add skills and fields of interest outside the law, become an expert in a field, which will continue to be sued. Add qualifications and polish up your experience. Never give up. Stay honest but if necessary be creative – I am considering a major donation to Harvard Law – something like my entire law school. Yes, even post graduation I have not given up on yet obtaining that all-important first tier degree. Do not fear but welcome the fact that you finally get to compete with all of those Ivy Leaguers and ex-top law firm big shots on a level clicking field. And above all cheer up but stay off of anything that could help you do so for you may end up having to pass sobriety tests. This said, please someone pass me the cup before I celebrate my latest ALTA score.
Andrea’s posts have been very engaging with Contract Attorney Central readers and we can see why. If you would like to get in touch with Andrea, you can either leave a comment below, connect with her via her LinkedIn profile and via email at: AKaluzny@aol.com.
Over to you, reader: what do you think about this new dawn of document review specialisation and the increasing demands placed by recruiting firms and agents on our knowledge? Let us have your thoughts and share any experiences you may have by leaving a comment below. As always, we’d love to hear from you!
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