Name: Shawn Huston
What kind of work were you doing before litigation support found you?
I was in college as an architecture major in Boston and needed a job at night to pay the bills. I had also done some construction work in the family business growing up. All things that would obviously lead to a career in litigation support.
How did you get the opportunity to join the litigation support community?
I was looking for a job to pay for tuition and beer and happened upon a job on the graveyard shift with Nightrider making a little over 4 bucks an hour. The pay might have been skimpy, but I had a blast working with some people that are still dear friends of mine. From there I went into management positions, facilities management, performed onsite project management support at Enron, owned a service provider, ran regional offices for national lit support providers and now working with a great group taking MerlinOne Level Review to market. Whew! I can honestly say I never thought I’d be a lifer in this business, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.
When did you realize that this career would be a good fit for you?
There have been quite a few occasions and individuals that I can point to that have made me realize that this was the industry for me. About a year or two in to working in lit support my Ops Manager Martin told me that he could see me sitting in his chair one day. As someone that was barely 21 at the time it made quite an impression. Another time that helped reinforce my career choice was the time spent running the service provider company I founded. I found out it was possible to put in 22 hours a day to something, while sleeping on the carpet for two hours just to get up and do it all over again AND still love what you do. This industry has given back to me in the people I’ve met as much as I’ve given to it (or even more).
Do you prefer to be out in front and working with the clients or behind the scenes working with the technologies?
As someone that is a proud geek and naturally shy it may be expected that I would prefer being behind the scenes, but when in those situations I always miss the interactions with clients and partners where I get to help them devise solutions for their problems and see it through, so I definitely prefer being on the front lines leading the charge.
Is there an area of litigation support that had a steep learning curve for you?
I was still very young in my professional career when I started in the business so I had to learn how to deal with the many different personalities that one can come across from lawyers, judges, partners, vendors, coworkers and technicians in order to get the information needed to make quick decisions in high pressure situations. The practice of identifying potential issues and resolving them to the satisfaction of all parties is something that is useful for anyone involved in the industry regardless of position.
What do you consider to be one of the coolest things about working in litigation support?
The words “cool” and “litigation support” may not be used in the same sentence very frequently, but at the risk of sounding cliché, it is the people in the industry that make it a great industry to work in. There is a commonality even among competitors that binds us all together and results in friendships that have lasted the entire 19 years of my career. People in litigation support also play as hard as they work which makes for some times after the midnight rush productions.
Which types of employers have you had while working in litigation support?
- 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?
If you are thinking of getting in to litigation support I would say, Don’t Do It! If that didnt scare you off, then keep an open mind and be willing to work with people. No one knows everything there is to know so don’t be intimidated. Chances are you know more than you are giving yourself credit for. Also, when the s#&! hits the fan, and it inevitably will, take a deep breath and take one step at a time to solve the problem at hand. Deliberate and thoughtful action is the basis for any solution.
Shawn Huston | MerlinOne | firstname.lastname@example.org | 857-939-9144