Name: Chris McDowell
Location: Austin, TX
What kind of work were you doing before litigation support found you?
Between my honorable discharge from the USMC in 1997 (Security forces/Infantry) and my first litigation support position in 2004, I worked in corporate security administration, in the operations department of a route delivery software company and finally as a computer systems administrator for a major defense contractor.
How did you get the opportunity to join the litigation support community?
I was offered and accepted a position as a production support analyst with a company who's primary focus was their own concept searching software . I processed data (both hard copy and electronic) and delivered load files for most of the document review platforms and this is where I learned the basics of the field. Because the software was proprietary to the company, it was the classic case of “on the job” training. I made relationships at this company that I value greatly and are still active today.
When did you realize that this career would be a good fit for you?
When I first started in the field, I was amazed at how “lagging” the majority of law firms seemed to be, in regards to ESI (electronically stored information). After I acquired my CCE (Certified Computer Examiner) certification and started doing forensic acquisitions and examinations, I realized that I had the knowledge and experience to take a document or data from acquisition all the way through production and even trial. I knew the legal sector was full of opportunities and I didn't see too many people who could do the same.
Do you prefer to be out in front and working with the clients or behind the scenes working with the technologies?
I prefer to be in front of our clients or attorneys, explaining to them what we're doing behind the scenes with the technologies. Knowledge is key and being able to communicate effectively with all departments will make one's life much easier.
Is there an area of litigation support that had a steep learning curve for you?
Coming from the vendor side of the fence into a law firm, I'd say the legal aspect has been the most challenging for me to learn. Luckily, I've got a great group of attorneys and support staff around me who are eager to learn what I know, so the learning trade off works well.
What do you consider to be one of the coolest things about working in litigation support?
I believe that if you like puzzles and/or solving problems (which I do), this is a great field to be in. One of things I take great pride in is being able quickly and efficiently find the proverbial “needle in the haystack” for my attorneys, which can sometimes be the factor for millions of dollars changing hands. Knowing that you had a part in coming out on the winning end of those cases is an awesome feeling.
Which types of employers have you had while working in litigation support?
- Service Provider
- Law Firm
Litigation Support is a well-paying career. How much has your salary increased since joining the litigation support community?
$50,000 – $70,000
How many years have you been working in Litigation Support?
Care to share any words of encouragement or advice?
Communication is key. Effective communication opens the door. Never say you don't know the answer…instead say, “give me a few and I'll find it.” If you can't find it, find someone who can and effectively communicate your needs.
Chris McDowell | LinkedIn Profile