Name: Tracy Ayling
Location: Vancouver, BC
What kind of work were you doing before litigation support found you?
I spent a number of years working, learning skills and knowledge in many different sectors. I have always had a real hunger for personal growth, and I am someone who needs something to inspire me to continue to stay in one place for any length of time. And so, for 14 years I held management positions across a variety of industries in Alberta including a 250 seat restaurant with 35 staff. I supervised in a large hotel, and was an assistant manager in a technical training department for a wireless tech company with international affiliates.
For 5 years during that period I went to school full time, studying international political science and international economics, and continued to work full-time. I branched out into strategic business planning consulting for NGO's and small businesses for a few years and then I moved to Vancouver in 1997.
How did you get the opportunity to join the litigation support community?
A little while after moving to Vancouver, I was fortunate enough to be appointed to a litigation support position with Environment Canada, Civil Litigation Section, involving the largest environmental damages case in North American history. I had no experience in litigation whatsoever so I spent two years absorbing everything and anything litigation I could get my hands on, and this is where I cut my teeth in litigation. This case had 18 parties, six actions, a very large document collection, and $100 million in damages. There are larger cases out there today, but that was a monster case back then and document databases were pretty new for us in 1998-1999.
When did you realize that this career would be a good fit for you?
I left the Environment Canada position to work as a consultant. I then spent 10 full-time years as a Senior Research and Technical Consultant to the federal government on large, complex Aboriginal law cases. During that formative time in my career I project managed many precedent-setting cases on behalf of the federal government and incorporated my business background and principles, such as: cost-benefit analysis, strategic planning, team building, trial planning and preparation. I realized during this period how important these concepts are and also how under utilized they are in the larger legal industry. I knew I could help clients achieve their goals effectively and efficiently.
Do you prefer to be out in front and working with the clients or behind the scenes working with the technologies?
I prefer to be anywhere I can make a marked difference in my client's world.
Where I find my greatest personal and professional satisfaction is when I'm working with a client and team and they experience a transformation, a mind-shift on how they approach a project or case entirely and I know they will never approach things the same way as before. When I am lucky enough to be able to contribute to this process I feel like I've done my true work.
Is there an area of litigation support that had a steep learning curve for you?
Without a doubt in the beginning the complex technologies and interface with IT. Also, not coming from a standard IT background I had to learn everything I needed. There are many, many software applications and tools that one is required to have a very good knowledge of in order to be proficient in this area. There are new tools and releases coming out all the time, so this is a constant learning requirement for anyone in the industry, particularly if you are an independent consultant.
What do you consider to be one of the coolest things about working in litigation support?
Well, I won't say the long hours, because we all know this can be a very demanding high hour requirement job – anything in the legal, or litigation areas typically are.
But, I never have the same day twice, and for me that is a huge plus. There is always something unique and challenging and a problem to solve to keep me engaged. I will also say one of the coolest things about working in litigation support for me personally is that I feel like I am contributing in some way toward the industry moving forward technically, (ok sometimes it's a glacial pace!) which we can all agree is very important and long overdue.
Which types of employers have you had while working in litigation support?
- Law Firm
- Private Sector
- 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?
It may sound cliche, but find something you are interested in doing and do it well. Every day. And don't forget to take a day off now and then, and spend time with your loved ones. This work can be all consuming, but a happy life is one with some balance in it.