NW Lawyer’s issue this month has an article titled: With Kings and Counselors, Bartleby the Doc Reviewer. In it Garrett Oppenheim compares the modern day life of a document reviewer to Herman Melville’s 1853 tale “Bartleby the Scrivener”. [1]

To clarify for non-attorneys, a doc reviewer is a lawyer who helps to determine which documents are relevant during discovery. Its tedious, boring work which is not the highest and best use for any attorney. But, even though there are ways to funnel much of the work down now through eDiscovery, it is still essential for someone to do this type of work. 

That’s the point. It is work and it is something which needs to be done. Because of this it has value to both the person paying for its performance, ultimately the client, and the person performing it.

The fact that …

[L]ike every other attorney in Washington, document reviewers have undergone the rigors of a law school education and, upon graduation, studied for and passed the daunting challenge that is the bar exam.

is of absolutely no moment!

The supposition that …

Doc review attorneys have worked just as hard to get their licenses as their counterparts arguing at the Supreme Court, prosecuting capital murder cases, and teaching the next generation of lawyers at universities.

is not true.

Some lawyers, perhaps because they are just more gifted at research and writting, or had better family connections coming out of law school are very fortunate to have had some sort of assist to get them started on their career.

On the other hand, some people worked their heart out in law school and this is what got them ahead of others and on to law review where they had the privilege of determining whether a comma was errantly italicized or not. These people did the work there and in doing so proved that they could be trusted in law firms … and were able to get themselves hired.

The fact that there are document review attorneys “who attended Ivy Leagues and those who graduated magna cum laude” doesn’t diminish from these peoples accomplishments. But it sure as heck doesn’t give them an excuse to bemoan the fact that they aren’t doing exactly what they want to do.

It is all in the attitude of Bartleby which is his undoing. When asked to do anything, his reply is simply: “I would prefer not to.”

That is Bartleby’s folly. He allows his preference for inactivity to be declared and as he does this he beats himself further and further down. This is not a “fine” situation. [2]

Listen, I know all to well the feeling. I would suspect many people had it coming out of college … unless they just continued straight on to law school. It’s the false idea: “I’ve made it though school. I got good marks in a major that I’m going to use to light up the world.”

But, the world takes no notice of you. You have this sense that you are irrelevant, that you don’t matter, that your dream can not become reality. Well guess what … you are exactly right.

But, you are exactly right for the wrong reasons. It has nothing to do with what is “out there in the world.” It has everything to do with what you have “in here at your heart.”

  • Don’t let the world put you down. 
  • Don’t let yourself think that your dreams don’t count. 
  • Don’t ever think that the work that you do is beneath you.
  • Don’t worry about what you are now.
  • Don’t worry about what other people are thinking … I can guarantee you they have their own problems they are worried about.

Instead, your job is to plan the work of your future and then work yourself right into your future plan … and beyond.

What do you really want? Figure that out. Then figure out how you are going to get it. Finally, start doing it … RIGHT NOW! [3]

You want to put your degree to use. For crying out loud, take a break from your work, go to the managing partner’s office and politely demand a time to talk about your career. You think they won’t allow it?

Maybe your right, maybe they won’t hear you out. Or maybe they will give you 2,3 minutes of their time and when you make your pitch they will with a chuckle dismiss you.

Are you going to allow them to do that to you? Hell no, that’s just a test of how bad you want it. Schedule an appointment for the next day. And if you can’t get on the schedule enlist the help of their assistant to find out when they will be coming in.

What’s your job, each and every day ask them again if you can have a moment of their time. That’s foolish you think. Well its not as foolish as getting the job doing higher end work.

How about this, try this for 30 days. If you haven’t succeeded by the last day ask yourself ho bad has it been? Are you really that much more worse for wear? No way, you could easily go on for another 30 days … and another 30 days after that. BE FEARLESS [4].

It really comes down to who is going to win in this battle of the wills. Let me in on a little secret … you are. Why, because if you are that determined. The managing partner of the firm is not going to deny you.

No, no, no, the managing partner is going to wake up one morning and realize that you are needed. The managing partner is going to wake up and realize that nobody else has the type of determination that you have and that same managing attorney is going to want to make sure you are in his or her stable. 

Don’t be afraid to work hard at a job which seems beneath you. Your learing, your building, and if you push for it you will get out of your rut and finally get some traction in your career. I wish you the best and would invite your comments.

[1] To find the NWLawyer Article With Kings and Counselors Bartelby the Doc Reviewer click [HERE].

[2] To learn “How to stop screwing yourself over” review Mel Robbins Ted Talk of the same name [HERE].

[3] To watch and listen to Van Halen help you realize what is happening Right Now click [HERE]. 

[4] If you really want to make it in this world, don’t be afraid to go after what you want, check out this 9:00 minute video [HERE]. “Go out there, and do the damn thing!”