Overtime for Attorneys Hired to Perform Document Review

Overtime for attorneys hired to perform document review at law firms is typically not reported, even though it may constitute 40 or more hours weekly. Moreover, since many of these legal workers get paid on an hourly basis, the billable hours approach only captures a portion of this discretionary labor time. The potential number of hours that go unreported thus may be significant.

A recent survey by the law firm Jackson Lewis found that on average, attorneys performing document review for clients were working 60 hours a week. This equates to nearly 80 hours of overtime per worker each week.

In addition, workers must spend time on tasks that are not compensated. In one lawsuit filed against FTI Consulting, a review attorney claims that she spent over 90 percent of her time on the job completing non-compensable tasks.

Commentators have proposed several solutions to address this issue, including capping the number of hours that can be billed per week and providing overtime pay for work exceeding that threshold. These proposals will require legislative action, but in the meantime, it is in employers’ best interests to pay their employees adequately for discretionary labor time.
The United States Department of Labor defines overtime as “hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week” (2013). This does not include exceptions when an individual is an administrative, executive, or professional worker.

A recent survey by the law firm Jackson Lewis found that, on average, attorneys who were performing document review for clients worked 60 hours a week. This equates to nearly 80 hours of overtime per worker each week.

Moreover, the hourly pay for this work is inadequate according to a recent survey by ALM Legal Intelligence, where attorneys working as contract attorneys reported an average salary of $30 per hour (2015). The overtime rate of time and a half is required for individuals who work more than 40 hours in a workweek.

Proposed solutions to address this issue include capping the amount of hours that can be billed per week, requiring employers to pay independent contractors overtime rates when working over 40 hours in a week, providing employees with the option to take paid time off in lieu of overtime, and informing these workers about their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act. However, since many attorneys are classified as independent contractors, not employees in some jurisdictions , it may be difficult for them to pursue claims against their employer in court.

Attorneys who perform document reviews often work long hours but are deprived of overtime pay. Some commentators consider this practice to be exploitative, and many believe that an overtime compensation plan should be put in place.

Overtime for attorneys who perform document review at law firms is often not reported, even though it may constitute 40 or more hours weekly . Moreover, since many of these legal workers are paid on an hourly basis, the billable hours approach only captures a portion of this discretionary labor time. The potential number of hours that go unreported thus may be significant.

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