Opinion | 19-10-15

What is the appeal of document review?

Undertaking a document review project is not always something that lawyers and other legal professionals consider. However, it can prove to be a very worthwhile and lucrative avenue for anyone looking for a flexible career. In this article our consultant Rachael Monteiro discusses the appeal of document review and gives some tips on how you can capitalise on your experience in order to progress your career. 

The City of London has been the backdrop for a number of scandals that have played out in recent years from the fixing of Libor, Forex and precious metals to the miss-selling of interest rate swaps and PPI, to name but a few. Fortunately for the big banks under fire, London is also home to one of the most successful legal markets globally as well with many leading UK, US and international law firms who are able to defend them. As a result experienced document review professionals are always in high demand across the London market.  

Why choose document review? 

1. A role in document review offers an attractive lifestyle to many legal professionals, including foreign qualified lawyers, and particularly those in the UK on a temporary basis, such as lawyers from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. These roles allow you the opportunity to work on high profile matters at leading law firms whilst giving you the flexibility to see the sights of Europe in-between projects. 

2. These projects very often pay generous hourly rates which increase significantly when doing overtime or undertaking a foreign language review. Rates are typically between £18 - £45 per hour, depending on whether the candidate is qualified or non-qualified. Rates can also be dependent on other factors such as whether it is a language review as well as the calibre of the firm.

3. Document review projects provide a unique insight into the inner workings of the vast institutions that shape the financial and legal market globally. And for those looking for something more permanent, these projects have been known to lead to other opportunities with a firm, such as roles within litigation departments as associates or paralegals, project management and technical support.  

4. The qualification requirements for document review are often more flexible than traditional permanent roles within a law firm. We regularly work on projects where the client is not only engaging UK qualified lawyers, but also overseas qualified lawyers or, alternatively, LPC graduates with disclosure experience, depending on the needs of the end client. 

5. A document review project can be the perfect opportunity to utilise your language skills. Candidates with foreign languages are always in high demand and, those with ‘harder to find’ languages can very often secure higher hourly rates. At SSQ we have placed candidates into roles which required these additional skills, including but not limited to Italian, French, Arabic, Russian and Thai.  

Our top tips on how to capitalise on your document review experience 


1. Pace and quality. Get noticed by team leaders and associates by making sure your work is of a high standard and that you are working efficiently and quickly. If needs be, ask the relevant person considered questions if you think it will help you to code the documents in line with the client’s requirements. Those who are seen to be assisting team members will be front runners for team lead positions further down the line.


2. Keep your CV simple and to the point. In a market that moves so quickly you need to have a clear and concise CV to make sure you are the first choice for a project. List the exact dates you have worked on a project and, subject to confidentiality considerations, who it was for. Include any relevant details such as first, second and QC level review work, any software used, the type of work and sector. Any experience where you can show that you have worked as a team lead will get you far. If you speak a language fluently and can complete a review in that language, put this on your CV. However, if you are not fully fluent or confident enough in a language to converse at business level then you should not include it.  


3. Be upfront with your recruiter. If you have upcoming holidays or other commitments it is very important to be upfront with your recruiter and let them know from the outset. Some people are tempted to hide this information as they are concerned that they will not be selected if they are abroad or need time off during the project. However, the reality is that if you do this you are more likely to miss out on the opportunity and potentially also future projects. If you let us know that you have holidays or commitments from the outset, we can help you to work around this. 


4. Remember to stay flexible and responsive. Projects arrive quickly and are filled even quicker. If you can make yourself available for a new project, make sure that you do. You never know how long a project will last and they are often extended. At SSQ we always react quickly to our clients’ needs. Therefore if we try to contact you regarding a review it is important that you get back in touch with us as quickly as possible to ensure that we can consider you for the role.


5. LTD vs PAYE. We engage document reviewers on a limited company and PAYE basis. You should always research which method you would prefer to be paid by. If you would like to be paid through your limited company make sure you have the necessary details to hand (company name, number, address to which it is registered). For qualified lawyers, it is worth remembering to have your valid practicing certificate to hand as well as professional indemnity insurance in place, as some firms require this for you to work with them. Being prepared will allow your contract to be raised as soon as possible, securing your place on the project. (If you would like more information on the difference between these payment methods or you would like any guidance as to where to start to set up a limited company one of our consultants will be able to help you.)


If you would like more information on document review or to discuss the projects we are currently working on please contact Rachael Monteiro