Name: Tania Mabrey
Location: Washington, DC
What kind of work were you doing before litigation support found you?
I feel like I have always been doing litigation support work since graduating from college – I just didn’t realize it at the time. My first job after college was working as an honors paralegal for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. I always found myself working with the “IT” staff to fix Summation load files and helping to maintain the databases. I also worked with a couple of colleagues to introduce CaseMap to the attorneys in our section and started keeping track with emerging legal technology back then. We always had massive document reviews and I helped to manage those. I was always engaged in some stage of the EDRM without realizing it.
How did you get the opportunity to join the litigation support community?
At the time, I was working at Ernst and Young LLP managing the process of collection, processing, review and production of subpoenaed corporate data. I was working closely with EY staff to collect the data, managing the vendors for processing and production of data, QCing the productions, and loading data into Concordance. It was not until someone invited me to a Women in eDiscovery meeting that I even knew there was a whole field based on the type of work that I was doing. I just knew that it was my job and I really enjoyed it. So I guess I truly did fall into litigation support without even knowing it.
When did you realize that this career would be a good fit for you?
I wish I knew her name but I don’t remember- it was my second or third Women in eDiscovery meeting and a woman spoke about her career experience in eDiscovery and opportunities in the field. It really got me thinking about whether this should be a career that I actively pursue versus passively worked in before law school. I left the meeting and began to search the internet about litigation support careers and found a lot of interesting information about the field including the Cowen Report and Litigation Support Today articles. Up until that point, I was still planning to attend law school and pursue the traditional lawyer track. During my internet search, I came across a couple of job postings as well and thought, “Why not?” and submitted my resume. To my delight, I was quickly hired as a litigation support project manager at a local law firm, loved it and the rest as they say is “history”.
Do you prefer to be out in front and working with the clients or behind the scenes working with the technologies?
I love both. I really enjoy working with clients and helping them and my case teams understand the importance of the technology and how it can impact their case. I also love the technology – I enjoy reading about it, talking to people about it, and working with it. I think that is why I feel like litigation support is such a great fit for me because it allows me to engage people, gratify my inner IT girl, and my interest in law.
Is there an area of litigation support that had a steep learning curve for you?
When starting out, the steepest learning curve was definitely some of the technology nuances for example dissecting load files – making sure you have the correct type of delimiters, line breaks, null values, etc. and understanding how that can affect your review platform or your adherence to production specifications. Also, being a typical “type A” personality – I had to learn to be more flexible. There is a lot in this field that you simply cannot control – so the second biggest learning curve for me was learning to plan for everything possible but be flexible to change and to be willing to adjust to ever-existing “fire-drill” scenarios.
What do you consider to be one of the coolest things about working in litigation support?
The absolute coolest thing about working in litigation support is the constantly changing and emerging technology and case law. I have become a complete eDiscovery nerd – I am always on the blogs, always reading articles, attending conferences, willing to engage in a lengthy conversation with whoever will indulge me and playing with the newest review platforms and collection tools. It keeps it fun, interesting and keeps you on your toes.
Which types of employers have you had while working in litigation support?
- Law Firm
- In-House Legal Department
Litigation Support is a well-paying career. How much has your salary increased since joining the litigation support community?
$30,000 – $40,000
How many years have you been working in Litigation Support?
Care to share any words of encouragement or advice?
If you are interested in joining the Litigation Support field, although there are not many “formal” curriculums, there is so much easily accessible information out there. Go to the EDRM website and read the wealth of information about each phase, review the Sedona Conference information and especially their eDiscovery glossary, subscribe to BowTie Law and Ralph Losey’s blogs, see if you can get your hands on a copy of the Arkfeld series, participate in webinars hosted by vendors and study the white papers on their websites, and last but not least, listen to everything that Amy tells you. 🙂