Attorney at Blah

From: Washington City Paper, November 7, 2007


Jay Kuperstein had a good job. He worked in New York for the NBA, editing basketball videos. Then he got tired of sitting in front of a video monitor for 15 hours a day and decided to go to law school.


Kuperstein, who is 30 years old, graduated from American University’s law school in 2005. The plan was to become a sports agent. “I thought it would be good with my background and law degree,” he says. “But it turns out it’s a job that’s nearly impossible to get.”


And so this new lawyer found himself sitting in front of a computer for 15 hours a day, working as a temp document reviewer, one of a growing species of big-city lawyer that sifts through electronic documents to determine whether they are relevant to pending court cases and investigations.


Kuperstein does not do research, and he does not write; he does not go to court, and he does not meet with clients. The clients whose cases he works on do not know his name. There is no room for promotion in this job, and there is no health insurance.


But there is the potential of a six-figure salary and also very little stress—except for the stress of knowing that the job may end any minute now, without warning.


Though it’s not what he expected, Kuperstein is happy with his work. His job exists to support big-firm lawyers, who do meet with clients and go to court and research and write. It is tedious, time-intensive grunt work that used to fall to young big-firm lawyers but has now been outsourced to temps.


For more and more law school graduates, this is the legal life: On a given day, they may plow through a few hundred documents—e-mails, PowerPoint presentations, memos, and anything else on a hard drive. Each document appears on their computer screen. They read it, then click one of the buttons on the screen that says “relevant” or “not relevant,” and then they look at the next document…


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