How exactly does one break into litigation support?
I have received e-mails from some and others have completed the Guru welcome survey and this question has been raised. As you may have noticed from the case studies, there is no clear direct path to break into litigation support. However, if you have made up your mind to pursue a litigation support career, there are some things you can start doing now. I have listed a few items to consider below and I have saved some other tidbits and suggestions for future articles.
1) Timing – Honestly, timing has everything to do with it. Be as ready as you can because when that entry-level position becomes available (and it will) you will want to move quickly.
2) Networking and Educational Events – Find out about local meetings or networking events or conferences and attend them if you can. If you are interested in a career in litigation support, it is a good idea to network with those already in the industry. I was recently proud of one paralegal who attended a b-Discovery event in DC and initiated conversations with litigation support professionals. I am proud of another paralegal who attended both a local Litigation Support Managers meeting and a Women in eDiscovery meeting in DC to network and to learn.
There are b-Discovery events in a number of cities. There are ALSP meetings and there are Women in eDiscovery (WiE) meetings. I know two ladies that joined law firm litigation support teams after attending WiE meetings. If there is a Legal Tech conference near you, try to attend at least the exhibitors section. I know that ILTA has held local litigation support meetings in the past.
Register for any webinars discussing litigation support or electronic discovery. You can begin absorbing knowledge now. Perform a Google search for “litigation support” and then add the word meeting or event or conference or webinar and see what you can find.
3) Database Knowledge – A huge part of the job is working with databases. A basic knowledge of databases in general, regardless of the software, will go a long way. I am referring specifically to knowledge about database tables and fields, database records, data types and delimiters. I would also toss in there database queries, both full text boolean searches and fielded searches (or search by field). Again, perform a Google search for these terms I've mentioned and add the word “beginner”.
4) Tweaked Resume – You only get one chance to put your resume in front of a hiring manager. If you are switching careers, you will need to tweak your resume in a couple of ways. First, I would suggest adding an explanation at the top that explains your career change and why you think your knowledge and skill sets will transition well to litigation support. Second, if you have any experience working with databases including running searches in any kind of database, figure out a way to add that knowledge to your resume.
5) Litigation – If you are coming from outside the legal industry or from the IT side or from a paralegal position in another area of law, you will need to learn about the litigation process. I just ran a Google search for “litigation process” and a bunch of hits came up. You can start perusing the content to familiarize yourself with the terminology and the process.
I will have more suggestions in future articles, but these should get you started in the right direction. Let me know if you have any questions.