Name: Dana Wesley Sarti
Location: Washington, DC
What kind of work were you doing before litigation support found you?
Solo law practice for 8 years (70% misdemeanor criminal defense); paralegal; legal admin assistant; office manager.
How did you get the opportunity to join the litigation support community?
I'm a geek. People bring me random tech things and questions, so I had to learn how to answer “what's on this disk?” and “what are all these 1-page pictures/documents?” The job and I grew into each other. As the firm's needs grew, I kept pace until it became obvious that I was already in litigation support but needed to get properly introduced to the community.
When did you realize that this career would be a good fit for you?
Years before I knew it had a name! I would have specialized in this back in law school if anyone had matched evidence classes with legal research classes (“databases” only referred to Lexis and Westlaw way back when). I set up and managed my own office network before closing up the solo shop, but I remained in litigation and continued to explore new technologies after that.
Do you prefer to be out in front and working with the clients or behind the scenes working with the technologies?
Yes. Not to be a smart aleck – which I totally am – but I like both equally. I am more comfortable “out front” when I have a better understanding of what's going on behind the curtain. That said, I spend more than half my time crunching, loading, searching and tracking data, so I really appreciate getting to participate in client/witness meetings and conferences.
Is there an area of litigation support that had a steep learning curve for you?
The super-technical/programming stuff. I am still trying to learn enough Access and then add enough SQL to know how to best employ the people who are truly experts with them.
What do you consider to be one of the coolest things about working in litigation support?
Toys! I am humbled by the fact that I helped persuade my firm to invest tens of thousands of $$ in technology that I am one of the primary people using (of course, I share it with the firm folks, but they barely scratch the surface with their tagging and viewing).
Which types of employers have you had while working in litigation support?
- Law Firm
Litigation Support is a well-paying career. How much has your salary increased since joining the litigation support community?
$30,000 – $40,000
How many years have you been working in Litigation Support?
Care to share any words of encouragement or advice?
Enjoy this field. It is dynamic and growing. It is filled with people who really like their jobs. Attorneys who are skilled in eDiscovery are becoming recognized as valuable, legitimate practitioners with a speciality. I think it was Ralph Losey who, on a web CLE I recently attended, likened eDiscovery JD's to the anesthesiologists in the operating room: not the surgeon, but every bit as vital and medically professional. As more law schools are offering classes, there will be more respect for us law geeks who have found Litigation Support to be a great career path.