Name: Kimberly Peterson
Location: Seattle, WA
What kind of work were you doing before litigation support found you?
When I finished paralegal school in 1992, the market in San Diego was flooded with newbie paralegals and I ended up taking a job as a legal secretary. Generally speaking, legal secretaries in San Diego are very well paid and are paid more than paralegals so it took me 15 years to make the switch from legal secretary to litigation support.
How did you get the opportunity to join the litigation support community?
Since my firm did not promote (or demote) from within, I was stuck with just brief glimpses of litigation support which did not quench my thirst. The legal secretarial role had lost its challenge. I took a brief stint at a staffing agency, I saw the true potential and value of a litigation support position and I saw how hard it was to break into that field. Every employer wanted experience! An entry level litigation support position opened up at my old firm and I jumped at the chance, taking a substantial pay cut from an experienced legal secretary position for the rare opportunity of receiving litigation support training at a firm that had always been good to me.
When did you realize that this career would be a good fit for you?
I've always been very computer savvy. In the mid-80's we were the only family on the block to have a computer, an Apple II. When I entered the workforce, DOS was in full force and was a wonderful training ground. As a legal secretary I would program complicated WordPerfect macros to make the computers work for me. I went on to teach myself Access and created a membership database for my local association. My firm then became heavily involved in a large MDL case and I was introduced to the wonderful world of Concordance. Electronic organization of documents at my fingertips — I knew this was my calling. The question was, how would I get there?
Do you prefer to be out in front and working with the clients or behind the scenes working with the technologies?
I like both the excitement of meeting with clients and working out solutions as well as working like a hermit behind the scenes working with different technologies. Clients are very eager to participate and I have been able to share my love of databases with them. There are lots of programs I work with to make my workflow easier and I recognize that there many solutions in a given situation. Picking the right solution and making computers work for me remains my theme.
Is there an area of litigation support that had a steep learning curve for you?
The world of e-discovery has a very steep learning curve for me. There are many flavors of litigation support responsibilities and while databases are my strength, I continually try to become more informed and increase my skills in the realm of e-discovery. I read articles and blogs, attend webinars, seminars and other types of training to accomplish this.
What do you consider to be one of the coolest things about working in litigation support?
The coolest thing about working in litigation support is helping clients achieve a successful solution to their problem. I bring my strong legal background into my technical role to create a more successful timeline, prepare a better electronic trial presentation, and find that needle in a haystack in a large collection of documents. Winning is the icing on the cake.
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?
$10,000 – $20,000
How many years have you been working in Litigation Support?
Care to share any words of encouragement or advice?
Step out of your comfort zone and take chances. It takes a lot of courage to follow your dream, but the alternative is the equivalent of punching a clock.
Litigation Database Support Coordinator
King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office