Shocking? Temp Attorneys Must Review 80 Documents Per Hour

paper files stack of papers surprised

Temporary attorneys doing document review for an unnamed firm were sent the following email on Monday:

Please pick up the pace. They are expecting you to do about 80 docs an hour and all of you are less than half that. Changes will be made soon if this does not change asap. (via Temporary Attorney)

Some commenters to the post found it unsurprising (“i can’t believe people are doing less than 80 docs per hour on a doc review”) and some such a review impossible.

Legal Blog Watch (hat tip to the ABA Journal) noted the issues with requiring such a review:

The demand for the review of “80 docs an hour” highlights the extent to which document review has now been commoditized in the legal world. Despite being a supposedly important part of the discovery and investigative process in legal proceedings, and despite the sometimes dire consequences if the role is not performed correctly, some clients and law firms continue to prioritise speed and cost-savings above all else.

While there is no doubt that reviewing and properly recording that many documents an hour, assuming they are of any substance, would be difficult, we don’t think this is that shocking.

We doubt there is a big firm litigation associate alive who has not flipped through hundreds of documents in an hour — hour after hour.

That does not mean, of course, that the work did not include mistakes or that such a quick review is even possible.  But this is part of the problem of discovery in big cases — lawyers over-ask, mostly to be thorough but a little to make the other side suffer and it results in hours of hours of reviewing documents that mostly not useful in the first place.

The firm’s email, though incredibly annoying, is likely more of an admittance than they do not expect anything to be in the documents than anything else. 

Sometimes this work falls to temporary attorneys and, as one commenter said, outsourcing. 

While we of course find it a bit scary that documents have to be reviewed so quickly, we find it much less than shocking.  More targeted discovery requests — and cordial agreements with opposing counsel about what documents are necessary — is the only way this issue will ever be solved.


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