One of the common confusions for those trying to get into a litigation support position are the varying job titles. If you ask several people already in litigation support, you will probably get different answers. That is because there is no official list of job titles in litigation support. Each firm or company will decide upon their own titles and corresponding job descriptions and they are definitely not consistent across law firms, service providers, corporations or government litigation support positions.
There is only one litigation support job title that stays fairly consistent and that is the Litigation Support Analyst. Most firms and service providers are in agreement that the term “analyst” refers to a “techie”, a “database admin type”, and typically a “back-end” or “behind the scenes” position. The analyst will be the team member that deals closely with the electronic data, manipulates the data and creates the databases. A litigation support analyst performs a lot of, you guessed it, data analysis. The analyst might have programming skills, but not necessarily. The analyst position is an excellent transition for a person with a technical background or IT background.
A Litigation Support Project Manager implies that it is a position on the team that provides project management skills. This may be true, but the project manager might also provide consulting and a project manager might deal with the data in a similar fashion to the analyst position. It depends on the company or law firm.
A Litigation Support Specialist may be considered a lower or less experienced position on the team and it certainly is at some law firms. However, on the government side a specialist could do all of the tasks of a project manager or an analyst or both. Similarly, a Litigation Support Coordinator is one of those titles that may encompass some or all of the roles mentioned so far.
Even a Litigation Support Manager job title can be misleading. You would think that it implies a management position, as in supervisory. However, some firms have a solo litigation support position and they assign the position a manager title, perhaps because they are managing the entire litigation support department (a team of one) for that office or firm.
The department itself, and therefore the terms used in the job titles, could be referred to as Litigation Support, Electronic Discovery, Automated Litigation Support, Legal Technology, Litigation Technology, Practice Technology, or Practice Support. Again, it depends on the person at each firm or company that is making the decisions about job titles.
My title changed 3 times during the 8 years I was at the large law firm. I really don't put that much value in the job title. To me, it's just a title on a business card and an e-mail signature, but there are people in our industry that get all caught up in the job titles.
My advice for you is to ask each and every time what that particular firm or company believes the job title represents to them. Ask them exactly what others in the same position are doing on a daily basis. I will tell you that some job descriptions are a template and not indicative of what the team members actually do. If you get a vague answer, ask about specific tasks.
On the flip side, make sure that your resume reflects exactly what tasks you performed aside from the job title you had in that position. That will eliminate confusion when recruiters and hiring managers look over your resume.