Name: Evan Benjamin
Location: Philadelphia, PA
What kind of work were you doing before litigation support found you?
People do not believe the path I took to get here – I was an accountant who jumped into computer networking, and then I jumped into computer forensics, and then I jumped into e-discovery and litigation support. I didn't have the luxury of doing this “at an early age” – it was all accidental in the later part of my life.
I also became a SQL Server DBA and was going to do this for the rest of my natural life, but something just told me that litigation support and e-discovery was the place to exercise and showcase all my technical and business skills – it turned out to be the correct decision.
How did you get the opportunity to join the litigation support community?
I was doing SQL Server DBA work and backup/recovery work for a large financial services company when a small e-discovery firm interviewed me for their e-discovery team. They had a proprietary platform for predictive coding and I was highly interested because of my math and statistics education and training in Six Sigma.
I also enrolled in a Masters Program at Bryan University at that time to get my Certificate in E-Discovery Project Management and it was tough juggling school and work. But I really wanted to learn this industry.
After this, I got a call from a vendor to help out a law firm's litigation support department in Philadelphia – they were new to Relativity and I knew Relativity. That's how I got in.
When did you realize that this career would be a good fit for you?
In 2007 I got certified as an EnCase Computer Forensic Examiner and did work for a software provider – at that time, I knew this career would be great. However, I still didn't know everything about e-discovery and litigation support. I thought I would be a forensic examiner into my golden years.
After I got the job at a vendor in Atlanta – I knew once again this career is a perfect fit. I wanted to know everything about predictive coding and litigation support.
Do you prefer to be out in front and working with the clients or behind the scenes working with the technologies?
I am the strangest mix of business and technology. Most people are “either/or” when it comes to clients or technologies – I feel like one of the few people who understands both at the same time.
If you forced me to pick an answer, I would say “clients”. I need the client interaction, I need the confused looks to tell me something is wrong, I need the happy faces to tell me something is great, and I need the questions that fuel my never-ending curiosity and keeps me up at night.
I'm not afraid of technology and I never will be. Even when I turn 80 years young, I'll be learning the next version of Relativity and EnCase. I learn every nuance of technology so that I can make clients' lives easier – I like being the guinea pig for new concepts and technologies. I have a knack for making this super-easy for clients to understand.
Is there an area of litigation support that had a steep learning curve for you?
Yes. If you look at the EDRM model, you see about nine stages of e-discovery. Anyone interested in this field should see where they fit along this spectrum and which areas may present a “steep learning curve”. For me, it was Productions. There are so many rules and requirements and restrictions for this. Every platform handles this differently, including OCR. The SEC, DOJ, and FINRA have their own rules for this. I wanted to do any production effortlessly, in my sleep, without getting one single error. Study the EDRM and find out which areas you seem to be predisposed to, and which areas you are subconsciously running away from. They are all important, but we each have different gifts and talents.
What do you consider to be one of the coolest things about working in litigation support?
Everything in lit support is cool, but you did ask for “one” so here goes….I love the technologies that exist to help lit support people. One job asked me to develop a “toolbox” of “every conceivable tool to help us” – I never finished this – there is no such thing! I always wonder “how many tools does it take to solve a lit support problem”?
Also – how do you know you're using the right tool for a given problem? So one of the coolest things about lit support is that you get to be a detective and a problem solver and a leader and a guru – all in the same day.
Which types of employers have you had while working in litigation support?
- Law Firm
- Private Sector
- Service Provider
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?
For anyone who wants to do what I do, here are five things to always remember:
- If you lack any knowledge or feel you don't know enough – teach yourself, right now. Never make excuses that others know more than you – nobody knows it all.
- There is nothing too hard in this field – it may be messy and outside your comfort zone, but it can be learned and tamed.
- Don't lock yourself into one practice area – be multi-talented, be forever curious about anything affecting litigation, and ask questions until you run out of questions.
- Read everything – blogs, articles, cases, math books, business books, project management books, trial advocacy books, law journals – find out what bugs attorneys, what makes them happy, what the trends and “micro-trends” are.
- Find a mentor – anyone who can help – an RCA, an attorney, a paralegal, a blogger (like Amy), a YouTube persona or litigation celebrity you admire, anyone. You cannot do this alone – find “someone” – now.