Lola v. Skadden, Arps arose from a lawsuit in which a plaintiff demanded massive disclosures of documents of a specified description. This meant that the defendant had to review thousands of documents to respond.
David Lola was a licensed lawyer hired on contract by the law firm Skadden Arps to perform those document reviews.
Later, Mr. Lola sued Skadden Arps for overtime pay. Skadden Arps contended that the relevant statute — the Fair Labor Standards Act — precluded overtime pay because the work consisted of “the practice of law”.
The prestigious Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit refused to throw out the suit:
“The gravamen of [the attorney’s] complaint is that he performed document review under such tight constraints that he exercised no legal judgment whatsoever — he alleges that he used criteria developed by others to simply sort documents into different categories ….
“A fair reading of the complaint in the light most favorable to [the attorney] is that he provided services that a machine could have provided ….”