By Joanna Harrison
Have a sports management degree? You too can work in ediscovery! Some folks think if you have a law or technology degree that you are a shoo-in for excelling in the ediscovery industry, but I can assure you that a degree alone does not deliver career success in this vertical. Professionals within the space evolve from a variety of disciplines since there is no formal degree program, and it is usually a blend of education, expertise, and skills that transcend to an ediscovery profession.
Just because you have a degree in accounting does not mean you will make a great accountant. Just because you have an education degree does not mean you will be an impactful teacher. Instead, it is the everyday life skills that will truly help you grow your career and allow you to cross over into industries that blend multiple disciplines, such as ediscovery. And so today, I want to share five skills that will help you further your career within the ediscovery space.
It is not necessary to know everything there is to know about data types, storage options, production formats, or review tools. As long as you are skilled at listening and learning, you can gain all the valuable knowledge you need to succeed on the job. There is no amount of education that can provide you with the unique knowledge of actual experience. You will gain all you need to know as you work through projects, identify what you need to know, educate yourself, and apply it. Over time you will add hands-on experience to your skill set to pull from and apply to future projects.
Triage and Solve Problems
eDiscovery is a constantly evolving industry. Project scopes change all the time, timelines move up, new data sources are found, and production formats change. The one constant in ediscovery is that things will change. It can cause issues for that well-planned project and create a ripple effect. You need to be able to identify the impact of that ripple effect, provide solutions based on the change requested, triage the immediate change, and adjust your plan to create a new solution moving forward.
This ties into your ability to learn. Depending on your role, you may not need to know how to query a database like engineers, create pricing models, or organize answers around data collections. Instead, understand the resources you have around you, what their roles are, and how they tie into your role. Make sure you leverage those resources to help and let them do their jobs to support your project.
Be a Team Player
Understand that no one person manages an ediscovery matter end-to-end. If you are the type of person that feels “it won’t be done right if you do not do it yourself” then you are heading down the wrong path. It is absolutely a team effort. It takes many people and touch points to deliver success in ediscovery. Work with your team, collaborate on a plan, and task resources. Conversely, let your team help and support you as well.
Above all, be a great communicator. This skill will serve you well in ediscovery. There is much that transpires daily on any given project and it is critical that details and decisions are communicated clearly, concisely, and to the point. If you have a phone call about project details, follow up with an email. If you receive an email communicating changes, confirm verbally those changes or discuss any questions that arise from it. Understand who your audience is and communicate accordingly. When communicating, your goal is always to tell someone something, however, make sure they hear it as you helping them understand something.
This industry can be a difficult one to tap into and it takes these five skills to be successful. Think about where you size up in your aptitude to learn, problem solve, utilize resources, work with others, and effectively communicate. I have a degree in sports management and I have learned to be successful in ediscovery using these five skills and refining them every day. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat more.
Joanna has over 19 years of experience in both the legal and technology industry spanning from operations, delivery, and sales support. She has managed and supported end-to-end ediscovery projects, designed best practice solutions, consulted on technology workflows, and implementations for multiple global businesses.
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