10 Things NOT to Lose Your Cool Over in Litigation Support

Hopefully you will benefit from my many years of experience.  It is easy to get upset about particular situations when working in the litigation support field.  There are many times when I used to get frustrated in my younger years.  I've also seen some litigation support professionals that hold on to the negative energy too long or hold grudges.

Depending on the culture of the firm, situations similar to these 10 items may or may not occur.  Unfortunately, more often than not, they do occur.  My advice:  Try really hard NOT to lose your cool over items like these.  Take deep breaths, “let it go” and move on.

1. Last Minute Requests

There are many instances where a request arrives on the desk of litigation support at the last minute.  Some of these last minute requests are legitimate but most of them are because the legal team neglected to give litigation support a prior heads-up.  “Let it go”

2. Friday Afternoon Requests

It is an inside joke in litigation support circles that requests arriving at 5:30 PM on a Friday are par for the course.  Some vendors have been known to sit by their phone on Friday evening waiting for that inevitable call from a law firm.  “Let it go”

3. The Legal Team Does Not Follow Your Recommendation

No matter how prepared you are, how right you are or how experienced you are, there WILL be instances where the legal team will decide against your recommendation.  It can happen for a number of reasons and sometimes it can have no reflection on you.  “Let it go”

4. The Legal Team Hires an Outside Consultant

There are instances where a consultant gets a sales meeting with someone on the legal team, markets their services and the legal team will eventually hire that consultant instead of using the firm's litigation support team.  This can feel very insulting.  You are an expert in your field, but I have seen it happen over and over where in-house consultants are not considered experts.  Ironically, once you are no longer with a law firm and working for a service provider, the legal team considers you to be more of an expert.  It's silly, but it happens.  “Let it go”

5. The Client Dictates Which Vendor Will Be Used

The service providers are marketing to the corporations and engaging in annual contracts. The client will then dictate to outside counsel which vendor will be used on a particular case.  This can be for the processing, the scanning, the review platform, or the review attorneys etc.  Hopefully the service provider is one that you like and trust to do good work.  Other times you may have no prior experience using the vendor.  The worst situation is where you have had an unsatisfactory prior experience with a vendor that you are now being told you must use again.  “Let it go”

6. You Perceive Inefficiencies and No One Else Seems to Care

This one can be very frustrating if you are a “streamlined workflow process” fanatic.  You might believe in taking the fewest amount of steps possible.  You may have learned to touch the documents only once.  Someone on the legal team may have their own way of doing things and they are not open to suggestions about using technology to improve efficiency.   “Let it go”

7. A Keyword Search Term List That Clearly Needs Tweaking

A keyword list has been created that has too many terms or terms that are too generic or some other concerns, but you are not given the opportunity to provide consulting.  “Let it go”

8. Requests for Blowbacks Galore

Even though there is a perfectly good database, the legal team continues to request blowbacks galore to put into binders.  “Let it go”

9. Rushed Productions

You have advised the legal team when you need them to complete their review so that you have enough time to prepare an accurate production before the deadline, however they continue to push the envelope.  This causes you to prepare a production in a hurry which is more likely to cause human error and it definitely causes undue stress.  “Let it go”

10. Forced Estimates

No matter how many times you tell the legal team that you are unable to estimate the exact number of documents or pages or a timeline because there are too many variables, the partner pressures you to give an estimate anyway.   If your estimate (that you didn't want to give in the first place) turns out to be too far off, someone gets upset and vendors can be fired.  “Let it go”

 

Have you figured out the moral of this story?  Do the best you can.  Provide the best consulting you can.  Make suggestions or offer your expertise when given the opportunity. Be prepared for situations like the examples above to happen. Don't take it personally if things don't go the way you'd prefer. Don't sever a relationship. Try to take things in stride. There will be plenty of instances where you ARE heard.

 

    I am very passionate about helping legal professionals succeed. I even quit my day job to devote more time to mentoring! I want to encourage you to subscribe and join the LitSuppGuru community. I share humorous, informative, and time-sensitive emails above and beyond what appears on this site.

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    • Okay…I loved all of these Amy. Can you just add “curse to yourself in your head” then “let it go’?

      The cursing in my head  usually helps me out 🙂

      • Anonymous

        Good one, Kisha.

      • Philip Hallquist

        Hi Kisha:

        I used to work as a cook, and cooks have creative ways of letting it go. One of my mentors was a guy who told me that he imagines that it was the executive chefs head as he chopped a head of cabbage. I used to go into the walk-in refrigerator, make sure I was alone and then say ” F— you, (Blank), F— you, F— you.” When I came out of the walk-in I was smiling because I felt some much better!

    • David Carns

      Everyone thinking about getting into litigation support should read this, have their moment of, “What a crazy industry,” and then “Let it go!” Great advice!

      • Anonymous

        Ha!

    • Philip Hallquist

      Very good discussion Amy! As a litigation paralegal I have faced some of these situations, and you are right – it’s better to let it go. Questions:

      No. 3: What happens if the legal team’s decision against your recommendation IS a reflection on you? What if it’s become a pattern?

    • Bowe

      Holy
      smokes… if this list isn’t true, I don’t know what is. Also…just to piggy
      back on what you said, the REASON you have to let it go, is that you are the
      zen on the team. You are the support… the one that makes everything better,
      the one that they can turn to when it hits the fan. A lit support person should
      not further agitate things, but be someone who comes up with creative solutions
      and saves the day. You are the Staples, “That was Easy” button,
      because few really understand what you do or what it takes. As long as you
      manage expectations, document your needs, and do your best, you’ll come out on
      top

      • Anonymous

        Very true, Bowe.  I remember buying those buttons for everyone on my team one year.

      • Jason Kaufmann

        “As long as you manage expectations, document your needs, and do your best, you’ll come out on top” 

        I agree with this whole article.  And this comment – but – what are we coming out on top of?

        • Anonymous

          LOL, thanks for the comment, Jason.

    • Joe Hogan

      I own a shipping company dedicated exclusively to litigation and I would like to say that the best people, BY FAR, to work with are litigation support people.  I dread the call from a paralegal or attorney.  All Lit Support experts let me know trial dates at least 2 weeks in advance and the attorney’s give me a 12 hour advance….  The key thing to remember is “they can’t do it without you” and they know it.  Also, you are greatly appreciated by your vendors….

      • Anonymous

        Thanks Joe for the kind words towards litigation support professionals.

    • Linn

      Isn’t Procrastination 101 a requirement for all law students?

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    • Malcolm

      THANK YOU for this. I will laminate it and place it on my desk!

      • I should probably make it into a poster. Ha! I will add that to my To Do list.

        • Malcolm

          Btw, I listened to your interview with Bowe Kurowski yesterday. Very good stuff. I worked with Bowe at Proskauer; he in the LA office and me in NYC. He’s a super good guy. Intelligent, smart and sincere.

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