Name: Patrick Murphy
Location: Washington, DC
What kind of work were you doing before litigation support found you?
I started my career in litigation support, in a way, as a project assistant (read: spreadsheet monkey) for the securities team at a law firm. I have spent periods of my career away from it, in IT project management and as an independent consultant, but have always come back.
How did you get the opportunity to join the litigation support community?
The large case for which I was hired hit a dormant period, and I was asked to “organize” a couple of cases involving telecommunications companies. I went to a technical bookstore near the firm's office and asked about databases. Eventually stumbled on Access 2.0 on my PC (Compaq!) and built what had to be the kludgiest relational DB in history. The newly-hired lit. support director took notice and I joined the newly formed group.
When did you realize that this career would be a good fit for you?
It always felt natural. I have a bit of ADD and my stubborn German/Irish blood loves finding and surviving painful situations, so the intersection of IT and law is a great home for me.
Do you prefer to be out in front and working with the clients or behind the scenes working with the technologies?
Both, truthfully. I tend to favor client interaction, as for me, that is the best way to see what trends are emerging, where pain points are developing (or staying static). That said, some of the best career moments I have had came after extended time in front of a computer, puzzling through a given problem. The best part of lit. support is there is ample opportunity to balance both client facing and behind-the-scenes work.
Is there an area of litigation support that had a steep learning curve for you?
It borders on cliche, but it's true for any technology-intensive job: the learning curve is constant. There have been pinpoint moments of major challenge — learning to build a UI in VB5 (I am that old) that did not completely suck; the meaning and math behind insurance coverage layers; the nuances of cross-claims. Not sure I have “mastered” any one thing, but I have definitely learned a lot about many different things.
What do you consider to be one of the coolest things about working in litigation support?
You see a great cross-section of global business. Every matter entering the litigation prep phase is intense, by definition. Many are in the headlines. You will see companies and businesses you would never have even imagined.
Which types of employers have you had while working in litigation support?
- Law Firm
- Service Provider
Litigation Support is a well-paying career. How much has your salary increased since joining the litigation support community?
Greater than $70,000
How many years have you been working in Litigation Support?
Care to share any words of encouragement or advice?
Keep an open mind and check assumptions at the door. Trite, but true. A very wise attorney once told me that the law is all about finding ambiguity. Ambiguity, on the other hand, is anathema to most IT pros (though if you press any of us involved in the IT industry, we will admit there is a lot of fuzziness around most troubleshooting processes). Wrapped around these two overlapping spaces are the codified and often competing processes in the legal space and computer world. As an example, laws of physics dictate how fast files can be copied, but the time to respond to a given document request is set via statute. But wait — that time can be modified by the court! And so it goes…. Strap in and hang on!
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