How to Become a Document Review Attorney

Oct 20, 2021

Research the requirements to become a document review attorney. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a document review attorney.

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Document Review Attorney

Document review attorneys often work as contractors on behalf of corporations and law firms. They review various types of legal documents to identify any areas of risks and information that may need correction. These include documents that deal with contract and employment law, product liability, intellectual property, commercial litigation or antitrusts. Employers sometimes encourage recent law school graduates to fill these positions, as previous document review experience is not mandatory. Since these positions are typically contract-based, some assignments may only be for a few weeks, while others can last for more than a year. Working full-time hours onsite at the client location is common for document review attorneys.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Juris Doctor (J.D.)
Degree Field Law
Experience None; some employers may request at least 6 months of experience
Licensure All states require licensure
Key Skills Critical thinking, analytical, research, writing, speaking, and interpersonal skills
Salary $144,230 (2018 median salary for all lawyers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerOneStop

Becoming a document review attorney requires the completion of an undergraduate degree, Juris Doctor and passing the bar exam. No previous experience is typically required, however, some employers may request at least 6 months of experience. Key skills include critical thinking, analytical, research, writing, speaking and interpersonal skills. In 2018, all lawyers earned a median annual salary of $120,910 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Now let's check out the career steps for document review attorneys.

Career Steps

Step 1: Complete an Undergraduate Program

Admission to law school usually requires that applicants possess a bachelor's degree. Although, there is no specific field of study that aspiring lawyers must complete to attend law school. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), prospective law students typically possess undergraduate degrees in fields like government, economics or history.

Step 2: Take the LSAT Exam

Law school applicants must submit Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores. Students usually take the LSAT during their junior year of undergraduate study. The exam tests a student's critical thinking, analytical and reasoning skills.

It's important to prepare to take the LSAT. Admission to law school is competitive and often depends on an applicant's LSAT score and GPA. Because of this, preparing to take the LSAT may increase an applicant's score on the exam and, in turn, increase the likelihood of he or she being admitted to law school. Many companies offer exam prep courses that familiarize students with the test's layout and the common types of questions found on the exam.

Step 3: Complete Law School

Graduation from law school typically requires three years of full-time study. First year law students complete courses in basic law subjects, such as constitutional, property, tort and contract law. Second- and third-year students complete elective courses, internships and clinical experiences. Some law schools may offer students the opportunity to concentrate their studies on litigation law and practices. Because document review attorneys may review legal papers related to lawsuits, this concentration may prepare students to work as document review attorneys. Courses in these concentrations include pretrial practice, trial advocacy, legislation, criminal procedure and federal courts.

Consider taking elective courses in litigation practices. Even if students choose not to complete a concentration in litigation law, completing elective courses in the field may prepare law them to work as document review attorneys. Examples of these classes include advanced civil procedure, federal courts and insurance litigation.

Also, it's helpful to complete a judicial internship. Most schools allow law students the opportunity to complete internships with state or federal courts. Completing one of these internships introduces students to the workings of a courtroom and litigation procedures.

Step 4: Pass a Bar Exam

According to the BLS, every state requires lawyers to pass an exam and be admitted to its bar association prior to practicing law. Each state's bar exam format differs, but may include multiple days of testing of both essay and multiple choice questions. The test covers six topic areas: real property, torts, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and evidence.

Remember to prepare to take the bar exam. Many companies offer bar exam prep courses that last several weeks and familiarize students with the contents of state bar exams as well as provide test-taking tips. Completing one of these prep courses may increase the likelihood of passing a bar exam.

Step 5: Take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)

The National Conference of Bar Examiners reports that almost all states require a passing score on the MPRE to be admitted to the bar. The MPRE can be taken three times a year, administered separately from the bar exam. It covers questions regarding the discipline of lawyers in cases of professional misconduct or malpractice.

Step 6: Work as a Document Review Attorney

After earning licensure, an attorney can practice any field of law he or she wishes, including document review. Private firms often hire document review attorneys to assist them in preparing for trial. A number of these positions are for a specific contracted period, although some may be contract to hire.

Step 7: Consider Earning an LL.M.

Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Litigation and Dispute Resolution degree programs are offered by many law schools. These programs provide licensed attorneys with in-depth knowledge about litigation procedures. Classes in these programs cover topics like advanced evidence, the American jury, arbitration, pre-trial practices and ethics. This is an optional degree program, but it may help document review attorneys secure permanent positions or advance to roles with greater responsibilities.

To recap, with an undergraduate degree, law degree and licensure, document review attorneys can make about $120,000 a year to review various types of legal documents to identify any areas of risks and information that may need correction.

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