The WSJ Law blog recently wrote about “a horrific tale of document review drudgery.”  

Sound of the First Year Workin’ on the . . . Doc Review Gang (15 Feb 08):

“the Law Blog was regaled with a horrific tale of document review drudgery… Reportedly, the doc review team — sedentary for so long — would conduct late-night cartwheel contests … The story was neither easy to tell nor easy to hear…. It reminded the Law Blog of our own doc review war story… What followed was four weeks of sixteen-hour-days clicking away on a computer program whose name we’ve blocked from memory. In fact, we’ve tried hard to block the whole four weeks from memory.”

While I was at NYU Law (’86) and as a summer associate in three law firms over two summers I often heard about the travails of document review work. I went to work as a management consultant at Bain when I graduated. In 1989, a now AmLaw 20 firm created a position for me that today would be the equivalent of Director of Practice Support Systems. I think I was the first non-practicing lawyer in that type of position.

When hearing about my job, most junior litigation associates said something like “Wow, that is really cool. I’m envious. I can’t believe how much time I spend reviewing documents and how boring it is.” It was obvious then that associates did not like doing document reviews.

Little has changed since then. Whether you spend your day flipping through stacks of paper or hitting the “next doc / page” button makes little difference. The WSJ blog post reminds us that though doc review is work that needs doing, many who do it would rather be practicing a different type of law.