The process of document review remains an essential task performed in anticipation of legal proceedings or during the discovery phase of a litigation process. Document review is when an attorney assesses legal documents to evaluate their relevance to the case and their appropriateness to the law. Thanks to electronic data like emails, voice mails and instant messages, document review has gained in prominence in the legal field, creating a sometimes overwhelming workload for attorneys.
In later stages of the document review process, documents may be labeled as privileged if they fit under attorney-client privilege or as a work product. Any privileged documents are held from review or may have their contents revised.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology
Document review has justly earned a reputation as a tedious and daunting task. Electronic databases improve the efficiency of document review, allowing thousands of pages to be reviewed in a matter of seconds. At the same time, electronic databases have substantially increased the volume of documents needed to be reviewed, creating a considerable workload.
The document reviewer carries considerable responsibility. Mislabeled documents can lead to the unintentional disclosure of important information, resulting in very undesirable outcomes. Important information that can protect a client can also be overlooked. Poor research can easily jeopardize a case.
Document review is typically done by a team of paralegals that are overseen by an attorney. Firms do this to save money. Hiring paralegals simply costs less. Instead of being done on staff, document review is typically done on a contract basis. Paralegals don't enjoy attorney pay, but they sometimes can work at home thanks to the convenience of computer technology and the Internet.
Document Review Now a Focus of Many Legal Careers
Due to the growth of electronic data, the amount of documents needed to be reviewed has created a sometimes overwhelming workload for a paralegal or a contract law attorney. As the work is often contract, the pay is not considerable to a secured position in an established firm. In an increasingly tough job market for attorneys, document review provides steady work that's consistent and dependable. It plays a prominent importance in the legal field.
Ryan Frank is an avid writer and blogger living in San Diego, CA.