To An Anonymous Document Review

It’s not that he loves his job:

I could have been a contender instead of what I am, a document review attorney. (Twitter.)

Nor that he enjoys it:

What’s new in the contract attorney world? I hope you guys/ladies having a better time of it than me. (Twitter.)

It’s not just that it’s fulfilling:

The only reward for being the fastest doc reviewer is quicker unemployment for all involved. (Twitter.)

Nor that quality is prized over quantity:

Project in Hou requiring 400 docs an hr be reviewed. Guess not interested in quality. #ihatemylife #stoptheinsanity (Twitter—those hashtags say it all.)

He has very little good to say about his work.

But hey, at least he’s “practicing law.”

Okay, I’ll accept being called a jerk and an asshole. I’ve been called worse by better-adjusted people.

Let’s assume, arguendo, that contract document review is “practicing law.” And let’s pretend that none of India’s lawyers could work on (or learn to work on) a privilege log and deal with (or learn to deal with) the implications of the HITECH Act on HIPAA, so that this particular document review can’t be—as I say in the post that set him off—offshored.

So what?

If you’re “stuck having to work for Huron,” if you “have to deal with their crap,” if you #hateyourlife, if you can’t even take a couple of days off when a hurricane strikes, if you “could have been a contender,” if you’re treated like an expendable part for $35 an hour, who cares if you’re “practicing law”? Your legal career is a failure, and you know it. If you detect contempt in my posts about your contract document review work, it’s because you allow yourself to be degraded, then complain about the degradation. Would calling it “practicing law” put a shine on that particular turd?

The anonymous document reviewer writes this:

Forget about job fairs for young punks just out of school. How about somebody helping out us oldsters who got laid off? (Twitter.)

And this:

I’ve come to conclusion that if we’re going to do anything about it, we’re going to have to do it ourselves.  I just have no idea what.  If you’ve got suggestions, I’m listening.

Okay, I accept the invitation; I’ll give it a shot.

They will keep degrading you as long as you let them degrade you—as long as you need their $35 an hour—or until they get tired of you and find someone in Gurgaon to do the work for $12. The only thing you can do about it is to quit, to get off their hellish carousel of debasement.

But what then? Well, you have a law degree, and you are clearly capable of learning new areas of law. And there are ways to make a living without subjecting yourself to degradation—indeed, without an employer.

You want an example, you say?

There are thousands of people who need lawyers for one thing or another—family law cases, landlord-tenant disputes, consumer disputes—but can’t find competent counsel because the number of competent lawyers willing to work for $50 an hour is exceedingly small.

Representing people in such disputes is not glamorous—your fellow document reviewers might even call it “shitlaw”—and you’ll never get rich doing it right, but it’s a service to your fellow humans, and you can make a living while working for people who are grateful for your time and your service. Show some competence—hell, show some interest—in such cases, and I’ll spread your name far and wide to our fellow lawyers who would appreciate having someone to refer the small stuff to. Maybe it’ll even grow into something bigger, so that instead of just making a living, you’re a success.

And, as a special bonus, just for you, it’s inarguably “practicing law.”

About Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett got his letter of marque from the Supreme Court of Texas in May 1995. He is famous for having no sense of humor when it comes to totalitarianism.
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