August 8, 2011
Temp Lawyers Performing Document Review Subject of Malpractice Lawsuit
The WSJ's Vanessa O'Connell reports:
An increasingly contentious lawsuit by a former client against law firm McDermott Will & Emery LLP is putting a spotlight on the legal industry's widespread use of itinerant "contract" attorneys who review documents for lower hourly wages.
J-M Manufacturing Co., the world's largest maker of plastic pipe, hired McDermott five years ago to help respond to prosecutors' request for documents after a former employee filed a whistleblower lawsuit. Late last week, Los Angeles-based J-M amended its pending lawsuit, abandoning some allegations against the law firm while adding others, including that the contract attorneys McDermott used "negligently performed their duties."
Quoting from Objection! Lawsuit Slams Temp Lawyers (WSJ subscription required)
The ABAJ's Debra Cassen Weiss must have a WSJ subscription. In Malpractice Suit Targets Quality of BigLaw’s Temporary Lawyers, she adds
The newspaper says the suit “is seen in the industry as an important case concerning the quality of work performed by a growing cadre of temp lawyers who are paid as little as $25 to $30 an hour to review documents.”
The suit alleges that McDermott lawyers “negligently performed limited spot-checking of the contract attorneys’ work,” leading to the disclosure of about 3,900 privileged or irrelevant documents.
If true, oops! Do law firms need to assign an in-house paralegal to monitor "itinerant contract attorneys" performing document review work? [JH]