Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Doc Review - Rags to Riches?

Interested in hearing any stories, particularly within the l dcgootle05/02/17
I know a woman who graduated from a Tier 3 school in 2013, d bucwild05/02/17
I did doc review for four years right after the housing melt thedarkscrivener05/02/17
Sure, I know several people. One person did doc review fo shuntiii05/02/17
I did doc review for a while and then moved on to substantiv nighthawk05/02/17
I was in doc review 20 yrs ago. There were all types of peop cantimaginenocountry05/02/17
Thank you for reaffirming this. I graduated in 1996 and it ruralattorney05/03/17
I left doc review to become a government paralegal for an ag wolfman05/02/17
I've shared my story in the past. I was on the doc review ci barelylegal05/02/17
My friend in Florida was a 4th tier grad stuck in doc review kretan18205/03/17
Not a rags to "riches" story, but I did escape doc review. I drwayoflife05/03/17
Do you have a throwaway email to chat at all? Thinking of st mnjd05/03/17
I don't really like my program but I went from doc review to bigsal05/03/17
I left document review after getting a job with in IT with a stillajd05/03/17
Escaped doc review after a few months. Was able to get prog pauperesq05/03/17
contract doc review > full-time position at biglaw as a "sta blackholelaw05/03/17
so basically, $ > $$$ > $ > $$$$ blackholelaw05/03/17
blackholelaw - do you work as an attorney or a contracts man uncch05/03/17
my title is Contracts Manager and Counsel blackholelaw05/05/17
Not all the stories are good ones. I graduated LS in the bittersweet05/05/17
Bittersweet, my condolences (small businesses suck to work f wolfman05/05/17
*&^$%! Admin, you REALLY need to allow more time on these bittersweet05/05/17
Ok, that makes more sense. I assume you're admitted to the b wolfman05/05/17
"Admin, you REALLY need to allow more time on these things. inho2solo05/05/17
Sure - WHEN I remember to do that. Problem is that I post t bittersweet05/08/17
There is no rags to riches in DR. There is hardly even a go lifeofleisure05/07/17

dcgootle (May 2, 2017 - 2:33 pm)

Interested in hearing any stories, particularly within the last 10 years, of those of us who have toiled in doc review, maybe had some temporary substantive bites, but for the most part were in doc review -- then made it into something else

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bucwild (May 2, 2017 - 2:44 pm)

I know a woman who graduated from a Tier 3 school in 2013, did doc review for a year, then got a job in contract analysis for a major research university. After a year of that, she took a job doing the same thing at Lockheed-Martin. Not necessarily riches, but she's likely making low 6 figs, or very high 5 figs by now, with great job security, and no billing hours. Damn good outcome from starting off in doc review.

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thedarkscrivener (May 2, 2017 - 3:04 pm)

I did doc review for four years right after the housing meltdown and as a result became pretty familiar with the financial industry. I was able to parlay that into a Bank compliance job about three years ago, low six figures including bonus. (It didn't hurt that a friend walked my resume in.)

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shuntiii (May 2, 2017 - 4:25 pm)

Sure, I know several people.

One person did doc review for a year or so then got a contracts manager type position, then somehow managed to become a GC at a large company. Not THE GC, like a GC.

Another was in BIGLAW before doc review, and got back into BIGLAW.

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nighthawk (May 2, 2017 - 5:33 pm)

I did doc review for a while and then moved on to substantive work that is well paying.

I doubt that there are too many people who moved out of doc review into anything other than family law or personal injury. From what I saw, most people in doc review convince themselves how great it is to work with no job security, no benefits, and no upward mobility. After a while of this, they have no ability to move forward. I tried convincing people to do other things but they are stuck where they are. I get texts all the time from doc review colleagues telling me that they need to get out of doc review. It has been like this for years.

You might have people who are there for a short amount of time waiting for things to improve. Most doc reviewers are chained in their minds.

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cantimaginenocountry (May 2, 2017 - 6:02 pm)

I was in doc review 20 yrs ago. There were all types of people there and according to this board 1997 was a golden age of law. IT WAS NOT. It wasnt 2008 but it was still bad if you were middle of the pack and no connections to get you in or mentors to tell you what to do.

A lot of the people I knew went into some form of JD plus job: self employment, govt work, legal work but not counsel at company, contract attorneys etc. A couple I knew went into big law but didnt last there a long time.

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ruralattorney (May 3, 2017 - 1:02 pm)

Thank you for reaffirming this. I graduated in 1996 and it was a very tough job market. I didn't get my first full time legal job until spring of 1997. And I went to a decent school - just a couple of spots from being T1.

Yes, it was not 2008, but it was a tough climate, for sure.

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wolfman (May 2, 2017 - 6:53 pm)

I left doc review to become a government paralegal for an agency that actually litigates some pretty interesting stuff in state and fed courts, both civil and criminal, which is kinda unusual.

I like the work OK and hope to either get promoted to work there as a lawyer (possible but unlikely since I'm not even admitted and likely won't be admitted for a while) or leave "the law" (which I was never really in, at least until this job came along) entirely to do something else... I dunno if that's rags to riches or rags to rags, but here I am.

The best I've seen in terms of $ was two people going from doc review to staff e-discovery positions in two different NY big firm... one person I knew who did that was a recent (foreign) US T50 grad, and another one was a foreign lawyer with an NYU LLM...

These people make OK money, I think (one can't really ask), but work long hours and I'm not sure about their career prospects... I'm not sure if I would trade with them or not, since I have no idea how secure their jobs are... albeit the money is nice, of course (I don't know exactly how much they make, but real NY BigLaw - and these are like V10 firms - has to pay at least high five figures for a staff e-discovery job, no?)

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barelylegal (May 2, 2017 - 9:58 pm)

I've shared my story in the past. I was on the doc review circuit before going in-house.

4th Tier Grad w/average grades -> Doc Review -> In-House (low six-figures)

I don't share my story with prospective law students because I do not feel like it is representative of reality. I essentially hit the lottery.

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kretan182 (May 3, 2017 - 12:08 am)

My friend in Florida was a 4th tier grad stuck in doc review. His second year of solo work netted him 100k, which is I think is very respectable. Of course he has a ton of expenses to go along with starting his own firm, and clients never want to pay, but he is his own boss and makes his own schedule.

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drwayoflife (May 3, 2017 - 7:20 am)

Not a rags to "riches" story, but I did escape doc review. I was grad of a 1st tier law school with average grades and got stuck in the doc review circuit while looking for a firm job/doing solo solo work on the side. I did doc review for about 2 years. At some point at around 1 year mark I knew that if I hadn't already gotten the law job I wanted, I probably never would (and maybe I never REALLY wanted to be in law to begin with). I learned Java and SQL in the evenings for 1 year and got good enough to get a couple of Oracle certifications, which in turn got me a few interviews at tech companies, which in turn got me a job as a software engineer. It's incredible, you don't need to spend tons of cash and years of your life to get a good job, you just need the will to learn and a couple of certifications/a portfolio of work. My experience radically changed my perception of the value of higher education.

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mnjd (May 3, 2017 - 9:53 am)

Do you have a throwaway email to chat at all? Thinking of starting to learn some computer coding and wanted and I had a few questions.

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bigsal (May 3, 2017 - 8:15 am)

I don't really like my program but I went from doc review to physician.

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stillajd (May 3, 2017 - 12:25 pm)

I left document review after getting a job with in IT with a huge corporation. I took classes in computer information systems while doing document review. Now I have a few certifications in information security and that's basically what I do. Low six figures. Not really riches, but better than law. The funny thing is that now I can apply to be a lawyer with this company and would probably be a viable candidate. So dumb.

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pauperesq (May 3, 2017 - 12:56 pm)

Escaped doc review after a few months. Was able to get progressively better opportunities and now work at an awesome boutique firm making low six figures in a low COL city.

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blackholelaw (May 3, 2017 - 3:08 pm)

contract doc review > full-time position at biglaw as a "staff attorney" doing 100% document review > moved to a new state > state trial court clerkship > in-house doing contracts all day in the legal department

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blackholelaw (May 3, 2017 - 3:08 pm)

so basically, $ > $$$ > $ > $$$$

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uncch (May 3, 2017 - 9:28 pm)

blackholelaw - do you work as an attorney or a contracts manager?

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blackholelaw (May 5, 2017 - 4:03 pm)

my title is Contracts Manager and Counsel

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bittersweet (May 5, 2017 - 11:56 am)

Not all the stories are good ones.

I graduated LS in the late 90's. The market was tough and it took me 2 years to get anything regular, and that was doc review. I did DR fairly steady since then until last year. And unless I was working really crazy hours, I made sure I applied for at least 2 jobs a week. If I had downtime, my quota was 2 application a day. During that time I've paid for for career counseling and three "professional" resume re-writes.

On average I would get an interview about every third year, nit counting agencies that wanted people for their pool.

Finally I landed something last year. I quit a Project Manager gig to go to a small company that sells a service exclusively to lawyers. I didn't need a license. It was a 40 hour week, it actually had vacation time, and didn't involve an hour plus commute each way to get to work from someplace affordable. But I took a sizeable pay cut to go work for a small company in a smaller city than DC, just to escape doc review. But if business gets really slow and the owner is wondering if she can pay herself, dropping the new guy is a feasible option.

We parted on good terms - it was purely an economic decision on her part. But that didn't help me much. So I spent 6 weeks looking before moving back into Doc Review. I hate it. But I know I can pull ~60K most years doing DR in the DC area. I have enough experience and contact to get the QC, priv and occasional PM assignments that sometimes pay better.

I'm just treating that other job as another temp assignment. The applications continue. But it's REALLY hard not to be disgusted/discouraged.

And if you are in the DC area and have heard this before, you MAY know who I am. Let's keep it quiet and not be any more specific than I have.

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wolfman (May 5, 2017 - 1:06 pm)

Bittersweet, my condolences (small businesses suck to work for unless it's your own business - fact), but I have a question... not trying to pwn you, just genuinely curious: are you admitted? and what kind of jobs have been applying for?

If you've been applying to 2 jobs a week in the DC area for over a decade, I find it hard to believe you wouldn't find anything, especially given how much the feds have grown in these years... unless you don't have a licence (not a lot out there for an unadmitted JD as I well know - I am one... although see those ISO positions from USA jobs, and state/fed paralegal gigs like the one I ended up taking) or have other requirements/are only applying to atty jobs that you aren't competitive for... like big firm gigs or AUSA gigs or only gigs in a particular area or whatnot.

For example, there is a bunch of Immigration Services Officer gigs with the feds hiring right now, and these ones are open to the public and you get GS-9 with a JD/LLB... or am I wrong?

AS I said, not trying to pwn you - you make more money than I currently do, despite being in doc review, and likely get a lot more time off and flexibility, as well as likely at least somehwat interesting work (as a QC/PM), so you could well be content with what you have. I was just wondering for my own education... and I'm not in DC, so have no idea who you are IRL and not trying to out you... thanks.

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bittersweet (May 5, 2017 - 3:46 pm)

*&^$%!

Admin, you REALLY need to allow more time on these things. Take the time to write a long response and you've timed out.

Summarized version: I have made it to the point of getting "short list" letters for various gov't agencies, but few interviews. Avoided things paying less than a GS-9 for fear of the pay cut. Avoided Family Law and ambulance chasing because I knew I'd hate them more than Doc Review. Applied for MANY govt position at GS-11 or better, using both my JD and BS, including Contract Admin., Proposal & Technical Writing, etc.

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wolfman (May 5, 2017 - 4:07 pm)

Ok, that makes more sense. I assume you're admitted to the bar and in good standing then, and have been applying for both atty and non-atty gigs with the feds (but largely/only ones at GS-11 or better). That narrows your pool pretty significantly, especially if your only experience is DR (but I'm sure you know that already).

I'm a little surprised that you haven't been picked up for SSA attorney adviser (isn't that GS-11?) or something similar, since they hire lots of people... but I guess those are competitive as well... but you make want to look at GS-9 positions if you are really unhappy being in doc review and just want a change FFS. I was at that point before I took my current gig - and even worse, my DR work was drying up.

I thought of applying for one of the GS-9 positions myself and seeing if I can work my way up in a non-atty role, but have too many irons in the fire already, and want to see if my current gig maybe turns into something better if I take and pass the bar... it would also be a slight pay cut from where I am to the bottom of GS-9, but that's not the primary drawback.

Good luck. It's tough out there.

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inho2solo (May 5, 2017 - 4:16 pm)

"Admin, you REALLY need to allow more time on these things. Take the time to write a long response and you've timed out."

Haha, that is really frustrating. I've taken to copying my entire post (for any that are fairly long) once finished and before hitting the Post button, just in case.

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bittersweet (May 8, 2017 - 2:48 pm)

Sure - WHEN I remember to do that. Problem is that I post too infrequently for that to become a habit.

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lifeofleisure (May 7, 2017 - 12:18 pm)

There is no rags to riches in DR. There is hardly even a good chance for rags to riches as a regular associate in Biglaw. Vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Charles Munger (also of Munger, Tolles & Olson out in L.A.) was already plotting his way out of law AT THE TIME he co-founded his firm. He had realized already that he really wasn't going to get Rockefeller rich on billable hours alone.

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