As e-discovery gets bigger, the future of the review attorney shrinks. This equation makes perfect sense, and on the surface, it sounds quite grim for the attorneys in question. As the New York Times reported in January of 2011, newly minted law school graduates are facing an extremely tough job market and burdened with debt. Law firms are letting go of associates and partners alike, and corporations are cutting back their legal departments to beat the recession. Oftentimes, review jobs (even temporary) offer the only somewhat stable source of employment.
From this vantage point, lawyers and the e-discovery industry appear to be pitted against each other. Why would you use software that could cost you your job? Why would you want to waste your hard earned degree in front of a computer?
The answer becomes evident when the situation is viewed in a different light. Yes, a contraction in the legal industry is ongoing, and likely to intensify. Yes, e-discovery may have something to do with it. However, e-discovery and other forms of computer assisted review may actually increase the quality of life for attorneys. As the review process moves further away from the practice of law and closer to the realm of IT, lawyers will transition into more project management roles.
The perception of document review as an endless slog, replete with late nights and mind numbing repetitive work is fading, and lawyers are better off because of it. Long live e-discovery!