Name: Tim Thames
Location: Columbia, SC
What kind of work were you doing before litigation support found you?
I was a case manager for a corporation managing products liability and asbestos litigation. As a former paralegal with a large law firm, I worked with litigation support review tools like Concordance and Summation to organize primarily paper images in electronic form for searching.
I was familiar with the rules changing in 2006 and latched on to the technology aspect of litigation support while in the in-house role. I managed a hosted application for discovery purposes and was involved in the early stages of preserving electronically stored information responsive to discovery. I participated in a CLE in 2004 that discussed the concerns and preparation for what we now cast as eDiscovery and I knew that was the future.
How did you get the opportunity to join the litigation support community?
In 2005 I transitioned into a more technical role with implementation of software for case management and eventually focused on the hybrid nature of litigation support and legal services. I managed several databases and the workflow concerning massive litigation matters requiring both legal and technical expertise. This moment established my litigation support career. Focusing on case management working closely with attorneys and paralegals, with my years as a paralegal transitioned very well. In 4 years, my experience and knowledge grew tremendously migrating from part-time paralegal to full time litigation support professional.
I have been fortunate to strengthen my experience by seeking opportunities that led to growth from different environments. I led a law firm litigation support department, establishing processing and hosting standards, implementing new review applications and most importantly marketing the concept of technology to management and attorneys. I also gained tremendous experience from a vendor role managing workflow for processing and hosting data for a government entity. The ability to work with professionals from across the nation and assist in their case management was truly unique. As corporate roles focusing on eDiscovery increased, I accepted an opportunity to consult and manage the eDiscovery process from the in-house perspective. Again, branching out to lead preservation projects, establishing legal holds and directing sound and efficient practices for cases was an incredible experience.
Again, I have been fortunate to capture and experience litigation support and eDiscovery knowledge from law firms, corporate and vendor environments that continues to provide opportunities for success in the litigation support market.
When did you realize that this career would be a good fit for you?
I enjoyed the legal world and had always imagined attending law school. But year after year, a new special project or opportunity would come along that I simply could not pass up. I believe my legal foundation and experience brings qualifications to legal teams that a more technical professional may not which has been formidable in my career. My ability to grasp the legal goals of the project and then associate and direct the technical aspect is a perfect and natural fit for my personality and background.
Do you prefer to be out in front and working with the clients or behind the scenes working with the technologies?
I enjoy working with clients and consulting on projects. My personality allows me to work with varied groups of professionals to reach the goals of the legal team. While I am capable of implementing projects, I don't mind a hands-on approach and I believe its important for a litigation support professional to feel open to working on both sides of the project. Over the years, if there is one item that is important is flexibility. I always look for candidates that have superior customer service skills and enjoy being part of a team. Litigation support has many different perspectives but we all work to support legal teams and it is important not to forget that primary focus.
Is there an area of litigation support that had a steep learning curve for you?
Applying technical data manipulation for load files and configuring load files has been less desirable than other aspects of litigation support.
What do you consider to be one of the coolest things about working in litigation support?
Working with different legal teams and providing key technology solutions that helps those teams reach their case goals. I enjoy seeing attorneys and legal professionals appreciate technology. The best situation is when legal teams implement technology and solutions in new cases, that's a winning feeling.
Which types of employers have you had while working in litigation support?
- Law Firm
- In-House Legal Department
- 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?
Experience as many different applications and tools as possible.
Enroll in a relational database course at a local college, I believe these courses helped me more than certifications in applications.
Organize a group of peers to rely on for guidance on difficult projects.