Today, the law firm Quinn Emanuel moved to dismiss a class action seeking unpaid overtime for contract attorneys doing document review. (Our prior post on the case is here.) Quinn argues that the plaintiff was practicing law, and thus a “professional” exempt from overtime laws:
This motion raises the discrete legal question whether licensed attorneys tasked with analyzing documents to determine relevance and privilege for pending litigation are engaged in the practice of law. Common sense would indicate yes. Overwhelming legal authority and decades of industry practice also confirm document review is a core attorney function, and refutes plaintiff’s suggestion that application of the exemption turns on the fortuity of whether the documents being reviewed on a given day are “extremely routine” or instead involve subtle issues of judgment. Although document review is sometimes perceived as a less glamorous litigation task, it is often of critical import. Hence why Quinn Emanuel contracted for a licensed attorney rather than an out-of-work actor. The centrality of document review to litigation renders it indisputably legal work, and the legal nature of the task does not depend on what the reviewer happens to find.