On every document review, there is usually one guy who is vocal about the terrible working conditions. In truth, most of us feel this way. But we need the money and say nothing, accepting conditions that are less than ideal—and, on occasion, working conditions that are illegal. Garvey Harris is the guy who thinks all of us need to take a stand. He’s a rabble rouser. The problem is, we have no leverage and the bosses know it. Anyone who makes a peep is summarily dismissed, never to be heard from again, and possibly blacklisted from further doc review work. So we all suffer in silence.
Throughout the Bottom Rung, Garvey makes feeble attempts to get others around him to rise up against the tyranny. In reality, the conditions and lack of a voice are a serious problem that should be addressed. For now, though, I use comedy to shed a bit of light. For instance, Garvey complains that there is “puke on the floor.” Funny, and true enough. Because if you have never done document review before, it’s difficult to fathom spending months on a job in a windowless basement dealing with the stench of people eating, spilling food, and dropping crap on the floor. The stench can be godawful, and you come to believe that the only thing that separates doc review from third-world sweatshops is your JD.
Marcus Dalzine plays Garvey. Marcus is a successful writer in LA who actually helped craft his character. We both thought it would be interesting and humorous if he somehow compared his document review experience to what his parents had to suffer through in the civil rights era, hence the line “my parents didn’t get hosed in Chicago so I could work at some indoor plantation.”
Obviously, the document review struggle is nothing compared to the struggle for civil rights, but if there’s one thing all document reviewers can agree on it’s that we are often treated well below the acceptable standard for working in 2011.
His wife also plays the role of document reviewer in this series. I believe they met on an actual document review job, which is not that rare. Lots of people end up getting together through document reviews, as you spend an asburd amount of time with people with zero personal space. You get to know people pretty quickly.
A handful of law school dropouts have gained notoriety for something other than being a wannabe lawyer.
We are in the middle of redesigning the Bitter Lawyer site. If you can't find what you came for, give us a shout. You can also start here, though even that is under revision. Don't worry, we'll be done soon.