How a Pink Slip Turned into a Litigation Support Career

The year is 1996. I had been with a DC law firm for only 9 months in a Legal Trainer role when I was called into the Administrator's office and handed a pink slip. I was one of forty people laid off that day. The administrator was a kind man and he was teary-eyed as he spoke with me. I gave him a hug, packed up my personal belongings and drove straight to the Best Buy store near my house to purchase an internal fax modem for my PC.

I went home, installed the fax modem and began searching online for available jobs. I faxed my resume to several recruiters. One of the positions I applied for described a position that was 50% Help Desk and 50% Litigation Support. I had never heard of litigation support before, but the description included knowledge of databases, training experience and litigation experience. I had all 3 of those and I had provided user support in previous law firm positions, so the help desk portion of the job wouldn't be a problem.

Within 20 minutes of faxing my resume for this position, I received a phone call. The recruiter was very excited as they explained to me that the law firm had been looking for someone for 6 months. The firm wanted somebody with exactly the experience that I happened to have. The interesting thing was that the law firm was not in DC, it was in Baltimore, Maryland. I lived half-way between DC and Baltimore.

I was scheduled for an interview within a couple of days. I interviewed with two managers, one was the manager of the help desk and the trainers, and the other was a manager of the programming services team. Since the programming team supported all of the applications within the firm, they had decided that litigation support belonged under that umbrella. Both managers explained their resource gaps and what they envisioned for the position. I thought the interviews went okay, but you never know with these things.

I heard from the recruiter, a few days later, and the firm wanted me to come back and interview with the IT Director. Apparently, both managers reported to this director. I was told by the recruiter that this was typically the final round at this firm.

My interview with the IT Director was going well. The help desk manager also attended the interview that took place in the IT Director's office. The director asked me some basic interview questions. She poked fun at the fact that I had been with two firms in a row that downsized their IT departments and that she hoped I would not bring that kind of bad luck to this firm.

Then I opened my big mouth. In the process of describing some of the techniques I had used in the past to interview applicants for positions, I mentioned that I like to administer tests to make sure that the applicant has the knowledge for the position. The director turned to the manager and asked “Did we test her for this position?” The manager replied, “No, we did not.” So, they decided, right then and there, that I should come back a third time to be tested.

Of course, they had to create the tests and that took several days. I had to purchase a new suit to wear on my third visit. I took the tests and was offered the job. The salary difference between DC and Baltimore meant that I took an $8,000 pay-cut, but I had a good feeling about the firm.

After 9 months of splitting my job duties between help desk coverage and litigation support tasks, I was moved to a litigation support role full-time. Over the next 8 years, I built a team of 12 people at that firm and I have been in litigation support ever since.

 

    I am very passionate about helping legal professionals succeed. I even quit my day job to devote more time to mentoring! I want to encourage you to subscribe and join the LitSuppGuru community. I share humorous, informative, and time-sensitive emails above and beyond what appears on this site.

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    • Joe Smith

      life just works out sometimes  🙂

      • LitSuppGuru

        Yup! Another door CAN open.

    • Kimberly D. Peterson

      Wow!  Thanks for sharing, Amy!  Very inspirational.

      • LitSuppGuru

        You’re very welcome, Kimberly. That is exactly my goal — to empower others.

    • Reg

      the friggin’ picture is priceless!

      • LitSuppGuru

        Hey Reg – I hesitated to use it because I certainly wasn’t praying at the time, but otherwise it is a good “pink slip” graphic. Ha!

    • Evelyn Grider

      That was great but how many people have your background.. you were great and now look at you please add me to your contact list for advce.

    • Shannon Smith

      Love this story.  Thanks for sharing Amy.

      • LitSuppGuru

        Thanks for reading it, Shannon.