Name: Susan Stone
Location: Washington, DC
What kind of work were you doing before litigation support found you?
I started as an administrative assistant for an IT group supporting a government contract shortly after high school. The group was responsible for computer and network infrastructure support. There wasn’t a strong need for an administrative assistant in the group, so I started to help out answering the help desk phone. My manager soon realized I had a knack for solving computer related issues and moved me permanently into a technical support role. A colleague had left our group and started working with a law firm to assist in the Y2k preparation; he told me of an open position, and I applied and got the job. While working at the law firm, I continued to gain knowledge and experience starting at their help desk and moving to network operations. While working in network operations, I soon realized I missed the interaction with the client, and my manager created a position on a project managing new software rollouts and technology to the staff and lawyers at the firm.
How did you get the opportunity to join the litigation support community?
I have Rebecca Prince to thank for introducing me to my career in litigation support. While working on the software rollout and migration from Summation to Concordance, I met Rebecca and her team. I soon started to support more and more technical requirements from the litigation support group, and she offered me an entry level position within the group. The rest is history.
When did you realize that this career would be a good fit for you?
I realized this was the right career for me when I found myself challenged on a daily basis and I could use my knowledge of technology and project management. While working, I was also finishing my degree in Management Information Systems. What I was learning in school as an IT project manager I was able to apply in my everyday work experience.
Do you prefer to be out in front and working with the clients or behind the scenes working with the technologies?
I prefer both working with clients as well as behind the scenes. As I said in my earlier response I didn’t like being in network operations since I missed the interaction with the client. I love being part of a team and seeing a project to completion whether it be from a settlement or trial.
Is there an area of litigation support that had a steep learning curve for you?
Having an IT background and working at a law firm made my transition to litigation support pretty easy. The area that has had the steepest learning curve for me was the EU data privacy laws and working with clients that required collections within the EU. Unfortunately, this has not gotten any easier with the changes in the last six months and expected changes to occur in the next two years. Coupled with the fact that each country has a differing policy makes keeping up to date with all of the policies and regulations tough.
What do you consider to be one of the coolest things about working in litigation support?
Learning never stops! There is always some new trend or technology being introduced in our market. Being able to learn and dive into these is awesome.
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?
$50,000 – $70,000
How many years have you been working in Litigation Support?
Care to share any words of encouragement or advice?
Whenever I talk to someone about entering the industry, I always provide three pieces of advice.
- Work smarter, not harder – With all the tools and technology available in today’s environment there should be no need to spend hours working on a problem. Learn tools and tips from others on how to work smarter and faster. The tools may not be in the same product you are using but within other platforms. I taught myself basic MS Access and MS Excel to create queries and formulas to help in many everyday tasks. Now that I mostly use kCura’s Relativity platform I’ve learned to harness objects and scripts to achieve the same goals.
- Take ownership of your mistakes and fix them – In our industry mistakes will happen; it’s not a matter of if you will make a mistake but when and how bad the mistake will be. I’ve found that how you handle the mistake will determine if you will succeed in this career. Accept your mistake and notify the parties that need to be notified. Ensure them that you will have a resolution and time frame for the resolution and stick to it. Use the mistake as a learning process to build in QC measures to prevent the mistake from occurring again.
- Take time for yourself – It’s no secret that this industry consumes your every day life. People within the industry are always required to be available and bring their A game. We need to learn to take time for ourselves so we can prevent burnout. My coworkers comment that I like to take cruises for my vacation at least once a year, sometimes twice. Yes, I do like tropical weather, but it’s also the only place I know where my phone does not work. It’s the one week that I have to force myself to unplug from my professional life and spend time with my family. Find what you like to do and force yourself to disconnect from work.