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Document Review: A Great Option for Aussie and Kiwi Lawyers in London

I recently had a call from an Australian lawyer who had just moved to London with her partner and was keen to discuss her work options. She had started the process of finding a permanent job, but was eager to find a short-term position in the meantime to keep her busy and to continue bringing some money in. This was just the latest of numerous similar conversations that my team and I have with lawyers from Australia and New Zealand. In these circumstances, a document review contract can be a great option.

Many lawyers have some familiarity with document review as an ad hoc process but aren’t necessarily aware of how developed the market is in London for document review projects in their own right, run by a range of UK, US and international law firms and legal process outsourcing companies (LPOs).

These projects involve going through a large number of documents using eDiscovery software to flag up and code them for relevance to a wider matter, which could be a regulatory investigation, banking litigation, international arbitration, competition case, etc.

Due to the nature of the projects, which can vary in length from a one or two days to several months, the review market moves very quickly. Projects typically start with only a few days’ notice so candidates that are immediately available are at a strong advantage. This makes it a great opportunity for those who have recently touched down in London and are looking start working ASAP.

If, like the Australian lawyer I was speaking to, you’re looking to secure a permanent job, a short term review project can be a convenient way to fill the gap while going through that often lengthy process. The income can also take the financial pressure off so you have the time you need to find the permanent position that’s right for you, rather than having to jump into the first job you find.

On the other hand, many favour staying in document review longer term. It can be very attractive for those seeking more flexibility, a better work/life balance, or simply greater control over when they work. Reviewers are also often able to gain very valuable experience working alongside the senior associates and partners working on wider aspects of these large scale projects. Law firms and LPOs will ask strong performers back again and again, keeping them in consistent work, and the competitive rates and options to work overtime (often at 1.5 or 2 x the standard hourly rate) also make it a very healthy financial prospect.

While some of our clients prioritise previous document review experience when hiring, others place a greater premium on recent fee-earning experience, particularly in common review sectors such as commercial litigation, international arbitration, banking, competition and oil & gas. We find that firms are always very welcoming of lawyers from common law jurisdictions, telling us that they bring a great dynamic and very analogous expertise from a similar legal system.

Document review is definitely not the only interim avenue open to those moving to the UK from Australia, New Zealand and other jurisdictions. However for many of the lawyers we know, it’s a very convenient and rewarding way to quickly get back into work.

For a confidential discussion about interim options in London, you can contact
Chris Goodman
chrisgoodman@chadwicknott.co.uk 
0203 096 4546.

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