Tips for attorneys in transition that are selecting their next document review

Jill Rorem, Esq., is senior manager, legal staffing at Blackman Kallick (www.blackmanstaffing.com). Jill oversees the successful recruitment of attorneys, paralegals and contract legal professionals. Jill (and the Blackman team) staffs document reviews using qualified contract attorneys and thus, works with attorneys-in-transition daily. You can follow her at twitter.com/roremlegalstaff.

There are dozens of agencies staffing document reviews in Chicago. Sometimes, multiple agencies offer you a project for the same dates – which one do you choose?  Below are some pointers to help you muddle through:

  1.  RATE:  For those folks who read me regularly, you know I have a soapbox on which I tout the rates gospel (See Irate about contract attorney rates: a rant). We’ve seen rates as low as $18/hr and as high as $35/hr for document review work (higher for foreign language and substantive work). If you are a new attorney looking for your first document review, honestly, take what you can get because the first one is always toughest to land. Once you land a document review, the others are easy to get and you can command higher rates. It is up to you to decide what you can afford.
  2. LOCATION:  If the project location is inconvenient to you, it is not going to be a great gig no matter what the project pays and the commute will cost you. Select a location that is easily accessible to you.
  3. FACILITY: Not all document review facilities are created equally. Decide what you can put up with. Reviewing in an overcrowded, moldy basement is not for everyone.
  4. HOURS: Some projects are capped at 40 hours, some have a more intense schedule that is mandatory. Some pay OT rates and some don’t. There are projects with set hours and projects that offer a flexible schedule. Find out what type of project you are being offered and decide what is right for you.
  5. DURATION:  A great rate and lots of OT for 2 weeks or a mediocre rate for 5 months? That decision is up to you.

Different agencies have different reputations and if all of the above circumstances work for you, it still may not be a fit if you’re working for the wrong agency. Do your homework about how agencies treat their contractors. Ask your colleagues or consult the many websites and blogs that offer reviews of the various staffing agencies. Below are some qualities that attorneys in transition should demand from the agencies that employ them:

  1. Honest and accurate depiction of a project’s duration. Sometimes cases settle or new search terms are negotiated resulting in fewer docs and as a result, the project understandably cuts short. But some agencies simply lie to encourage you to select a project.
  2. Consistent top-of-the-market pay rates.
  3. Some kind of bonus based on hours and/or other benefits.
  4. Comfortable work space.
  5. Friendly and accessible agency reps.

Happy reviewing!

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