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The first impression you make with your next potential employer is your resume. How you look on paper is a direct reflection of how you will be perceived by the client in person, so – it is essential to craft a resume that accurately reflects your skills and experience However, the style, flow, and visual clarity also reflects upon you! Here are some helpful hints from the trenches of resume submission and creation:
Your resume is an extension of you. Your style, format, font, and grammar/spelling choices will indicate to a prospective employer the quality of the work you will do for them and your ability to articulate what you do.
For more resume tips, look for our next COWEN BLOG!
IP continues to grow at double digits and so does the demand for Litigation Support talent required to perform such work.
As law firms continue to add talent and clients to their IP practices, Litigation Support professionals will see a dramatic increase in workflow and new client demands.
And I do not mean scanning and coding. IP clients are highly sophisticated and demand more.
This means meeting your firm's clients.
The client's CIO will demand to meet you and the rest of your firm to be sure that you can handle the case. This includes your knowledge of various strategies, data collection options, online tool selection, server space, backup solutions, EXPERIENCE with similar matters and the firm wide talent to handle the case.
The lawyers have the easy role here. Try spending 2 hours being grilled by a Biotech CIO in Indianapolis. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.
The King & Spalding link below is just example of this war for talent. The hidden story is how the role of Litigation Support will change and become more critical to winning the assignment (top line revenue) and ultimately the case.
Yes, the case. IP clients don’t tend to blink. They go to court and litigate.
Need more budget for staff, tools and training? Here is your business case:
King & Spalding Raids Rival for IP Talent [From The Daily Report Online, registration required]
King & Spalding, looking to beef up its intellectual property and biotechnology practices, hired three attorneys from cross-town rival Kilpatrick Stockton and may be scoping out more hires in those areas.
King & Spalding wants to grow its IP practice group within three years to about 150 members from the current 100 lawyers and patent agents, said King & Spalding partner Courtland L. Reichman, head of the firm's IP group.
Lead, Follow, or Get Bought.
New York's Dewey Ballantine and San Francisco's Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe are discussing a possible merger, the leaders of both firms confirmed Monday.
It remains unclear how far the discussions have advanced, but if a merger is completed, the combined firm would have more than 1,200 lawyers and hit nearly $1 billion in revenues, based on the most recent Am Law 100.
"There is much that needs to be discussed so it is still premature to speculate on a potential outcome at this time," said Morton Pierce, chairman of Dewey Ballantine's management and executive committees. "I will say that I am intrigued by the possibilities to create one of the largest and most dynamic firms in the marketplace."
With the ever increasing complexity of Litigation and global clients demanding more full service and fee containment, the Dewey-Orrick merger (New York Times Online- Registration Required) is a natural.
As are the several others I am hearing about.
What does it mean for your career? Increased chaos, greater competition, and promotable opportunities for those that can provide leadership and build meaningful relationships with key partners, co–workers, and department heads.
The number of people employed in Litigation Support has grown 400% in the past year, and the demand for talent continues to accelerate, both in number and in professional quality. So you can’t sit back and complain that no one is training you. You must be an active participant in the development of your department -- and your career. Where once titles and salaries were handed to people simply because they could understand the evolving technologies, now seismic shifts in the needs of major firms have raised requirements. Premium new hires now must understand technology methodology too. The tectonic movement to fill higher level positions is producing demand for staffers that have a firm grasp of the process-- the "What, How & Why" behind E-discovery and Litigation Support. This is where you can separate yourself from the throngs of new analysts, specialists, and project managers flooding the Litigation Support space. Understand the process, and you'll be sitting in the driver's seat of your career, with the keys to your success in hand. Here, for example, is an article on how to limit the scope of discovery. This is the kind of outside information that you can pass on to the attorneys above you, even though initially they may resist you. If you are able to draw connections between that article and the attorneys' cases at hand -- ie, between what you can offer in Litigation Support, and its specific benefit to their cases -- you will prove yourself to be "mission-critical" to the success of those cases, to client billing and, ultimately, to the firm. So be proactive about the process. Develop and nurture lines of communication among all departments that rely on Litigation Support. When gray areas arise, ask questions. Keep up on industry developments outside of your office. Develop your own knowledge base and your professional credibility, and take a leadership role. Get in the driver's seat. Because the "What, How & Why" are the Keys to your Success!
The number of people employed in Litigation Support has grown 400% in the past year, and the demand for talent continues to accelerate, both in number and in professional quality. So you can’t sit back and complain that no one is training you. You must be an active participant in the development of your department -- and your career.
Where once titles and salaries were handed to people simply because they could understand the evolving technologies, now seismic shifts in the needs of major firms have raised requirements. Premium new hires now must understand technology methodology too. The tectonic movement to fill higher level positions is producing demand for staffers that have a firm grasp of the process-- the "What, How & Why" behind E-discovery and Litigation Support.
This is where you can separate yourself from the throngs of new analysts, specialists, and project managers flooding the Litigation Support space. Understand the process, and you'll be sitting in the driver's seat of your career, with the keys to your success in hand.
Here, for example, is an article on how to limit the scope of discovery. This is the kind of outside information that you can pass on to the attorneys above you, even though initially they may resist you. If you are able to draw connections between that article and the attorneys' cases at hand -- ie, between what you can offer in Litigation Support, and its specific benefit to their cases -- you will prove yourself to be "mission-critical" to the success of those cases, to client billing and, ultimately, to the firm.
So be proactive about the process. Develop and nurture lines of communication among all departments that rely on Litigation Support.
When gray areas arise, ask questions. Keep up on industry developments outside of your office. Develop your own knowledge base and your professional credibility, and take a leadership role. Get in the driver's seat. Because the "What, How & Why" are the Keys to your Success!
A: The Cowen Job Bank
Not a day goes by that I'm not asked by a mid-sized law firm or major corporation about salaries in the litigation support space. The questions go something like this:
Etc., etc., etc.
My answer is always the same:
Take a look at the Cowen Job Bank. Real job offerings. Real salaries. Regionally reliable. Take a look at what companies are actually paying for directors, coordinators, managers, analysts and specialists. From Boston to New York and D. C., to Chicago, San Francisco and LA, the best way to see what people are paying is to take a look at the Cowen Job Bank. There's your Salary Survey.
A more formalized salary survey is nearly impossible to nail down, because salaries are increasing 10% - 20% every three months. And why is that? Because, for the moment, demand exceeds supply. But there is a solution. . . .
For more information on how to maintain your litigation support talent and optimize costs – both in-house and outsourced, email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be happy to send you our most recent white paper on the subject.
Meanwhile. . . Happy Hunting!
Los Angeles is everything they say it is. Just ask Monica Bay:
The Cowen Group held a delightful kick off dinner at Los Angeles' The Palm last night, drawing a terrific group -- mostly litigation support executives -- including Law Technology News board members Betsy Reynolds (right)(Manatt), Tom Baldwin (Sheppard Mullin), and new board member Linda Alele (O'Melveny).
However you want to say it, paralegal or legal assistant, these guys/gals are “IT” as far as litigation support goes. They are the future. And they are “It” without being IT professionals, first and foremost.
As with any position, you have to find the right person regardless of background. There is a window of opportunity here to create a career path that fosters industry-specific technical growth and expertise for paralegals so the right ones can move into the ever-changing and complex world of Litigation Support. In doing so, even the ones who won’t go in the more technical direction of Litigation Support will only be that much better at what they do.
Let’s face it, only a very specific type of IT professional can potentially excel in the world of Litigation Support. Will that person ever truly understand why electronic data discovery is being done and what these vast document productions are all about? Will that person have the ear of the lead attorney and associates on the case? Will that person be accepted as a biller by the client? Bottom line, is that IT professional connected enough to the business process that determines the technical process for case management?
Paralegals manage cases. For decades, they’ve managed obscene volumes of paper. So, as the world has become digitized, it’s only natural that they adapt to the medium that contains the potential ‘smoking gun’. Not only is it natural, but it’s essential. Ask any litigator and he/she will tell you that their assigned paralegal must understand the issues of the case, must be connected to the discovery process, and the reasons behind it. In order to manage it, they now have to be able to understand the technology involved—the ways of harnessing vast amounts of electronic data, the complexities of email data, and chain of custody. In addition, they have to know how to handle hybrid cases of electronic data and traditional paper documents that predate electronic storage and are too fragile to be scanned. The ones that are ready to take that understanding to the next level make the most natural litigation support specialists. These are the ones who can leverage their experience in running a case and make the best decisions about electronic data discovery. EDD is so much more than the technical processes behind the computer forensics and data management.
It’s all about the details
Whether you go the route of IT professionals or paralegals to staff your Litigation Support department, you better have individuals who extremely precise, detail-oriented, thorough, and who operate with a sense of urgency with the ability to remain poised under pressure. And don’t forget the value of their interpersonal skills.
Remember, just like with a reprographics center, you can always hire the technical talent to do the underlying work - just as you would for copying and scanning. Only this time, you’re calling in people with higher technical credentials to link databases with images or to use an ASP to turn out vast amounts of email for review.
Finally, many paralegals don’t want to go to law school and don’t want to be a lawyer.
Imagine if there was a forward thinking firm that could offer a career track to these highly talented employees.
There has been a growing debate amongst major law firms, vendors, and Fortune 500 companies on whether or not they should be grooming their IT professionals or paralegals into shiny new Litigation Support staff.
Both approaches have pros and cons. This week two guest writers will outline their thoughts and ideas on which is best. On Friday, I will share my thoughts given what I see on the market as a whole.
The IT Department - Litigation Support's latest recruiting ground.
By Mark Lieb
© 2006 Ad Litem Consulting, Inc.
Is a legal background a prerequisite to providing top level litigation support? Can a firm hire an IT person and teach them to provide world class litigation support? These are questions facing most firms today. As the need for litigation support professionals becomes greater, firms with existing Litigation Support Departments are looking at both the paralegal and IT markets to find that next hire. For a field that becomes more technical daily, the selection of a technically trained professional is an obvious choice.
The marketplace has plenty of network engineers and programmers. One can "borrow" from the firm's own IT Department, but then that leaves another position open. Concurrently, colleges are graduating new technicians all the time. Fresh to market, their salary expectations can be quite reasonable.
Until recently an IT position did pay more than a Litigation Support job. There was also a greater chance for advancement. This seems to be changing as supply-demand economics and larger departments raise prices and job titles. At the top are those persons with the most experience who manage the department and consult with the legal teams. Below them are the "operations" folk, who primarily load data and create cds. The introduction of electronic discovery has forced the Litigation Support role to become technical. Photocopies were easy to manage by comparison. A paralegal could work on a case and contract for legal copying. Today, Litigation Support is a full time occupation responsible for a suite of software tools, monitoring server capacity, network utilization and other technical factors. This is in addition to working on projects specific to any client matter.
Litigation Support is also responsible for managing copious amounts of data, images and associated files. Remote access, storage, backup and disaster recovery are very real concerns for the Litigation Support Department. Tools, like Dataflight's FYI Server, provide an accounting of storage, bandwidth and other, traditionally, IT concerns. A person with a technical background will feel very comfortable representing the Litigation Department's best interests when addressing these types of concerns with the IT Department and outside vendors. But, will that same person be as confident when handling litigation case issues?
The transition from IT to Lit Support worked for me and for IT people I have coached into the marketplace. One can come from a tech background and succeed in this role. In fact, a formally trained technician may be the best person to recognize tech strategies which result in quicker review and lower vendor bills. Forensics may be new to many litigators and paralegals, but the technology is old news for IT professionals. The same is true for much of the technology just now entering the litigation software marketplace. Technicians are problem solvers who handle high pressure and short turnaround times in order to support every department, application and office for their company. They should be able to support the Litigation Department and a limited suite of applications.
The question before law firms today is whether to train someone who has an advanced technology education but a novice understanding of case lifecycle and the law to provide litigation support. The answer depends upon what type of support this person will provide. If the person is modifying load files, administrating user logins, burning images and converting ediscovery into databases, a technical background is advantageous. The new hire will learn about the case lifecycle and what is important during department and case team meetings. They can attend webinars and read books, like Litigation Support Department. As this person becomes more familiar with how technology compliments the case lifecycle, they will know enough to provide consulting to the legal team. While legal strategies change from one matter to another, the case lifecycle remains consistent. Collect, review, produce, depose, trial, rinse and repeat as necessary. Once learned, the litigation support professional can provide consultative, in addition to technical effort to
the case. This person will never file a motion, read a document or depose a witness. Their concerns and value lie elsewhere.
Some law firms have each litigation support person provide both the project management and technical work for their assigned cases. For these firms, the prospect of hiring a case lifecycle novice poses operational and organizational challenges. I contend that such a firm could benefit from transferring technical work away from existing Litigation Support staff. Senior persons are able to concentrate upon advanced issues, such as qualifying vendors, project management and consulting with the legal team, while the novice recruit learns to do everything else. Some firms have already hired full time electronic discovery technicians in an effort to save cost by moving services inside to the firm. As each technician has a time entry number, the next question is whether there are at least 1,000 billable hours a year of work, so they can pay for themselves.
Regardless of where the new hire comes from, the future of the Litigation Support professional is very bright. This individual is in a position to evaluate the litigation technology and support at the law firm and improve it. Within the law firms, this position can be one route to management. Within litigious industries where corporations face tremendous ediscovery costs, this position may also find a friendly home.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark R. Lieb is the President of Ad Litem Consulting and author of the books, Litigation Support Department and Litigation Support Technical Standards. Mr. Lieb has provided Litigation Support to legal teams for cases ranging from small collections to multinational, multi-firm litigation, involving millions of pages of ediscovery. He currently consults with firms, law departments, service bureaus and software companies on litigation technology best practices. If you would like to learn more about using technology in litigation, please feel free to visit Ad Litem Consulting, www.AdLitem.com, or call (866) 477-4523.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the cafeteria. Williams was completely unlicensed to practice law in the state of New York. How did this go unnoticed for 13 years?
Human Resources at 22 of the Amlaw 100 firms are no longer asking “How this happened?” Instead they’re making sure it doesn’t happen again by implementing new policies and procedures to protect the assets of their firm.
So if you’re interviewing for a position at a top law firm or Fortune 500 company, don’t be surprised or insulted if not only are you asked to fill out an application and bring your resume, but also to provide your college transcripts and provide documentation for any further certifications that you’ve earned.
My advice: Go ahead and fill out the application but transcripts and documentation work like references. You’re not required to supply them until you know you’re interested in the position.
In the rapidly expanding and growing litigation support and eDiscovery space, it seems like everyone has a 96mph fastball. Most talent are getting promotions-- more money, more responsibility, and more opportunity.
However, you still need to do your homework to increase your marketability and become an All Star. The learning curve keeps arching upwards and the only way to travel along with it is by reading, doing, taking classes, and mentoring those beneath you.
By identifying and developing the areas in which you’re already proficient, you can take the necessary next steps to hasten your upward movement—whether it be at your current company or one more suited towards your talents. It’s a subtle logic chain of success.
You have talent in a certain area. You enjoy doing tasks that you do well with minimum effort. You enjoy doing this activity that you do well so you do it with more fervor than others. You improve due to increased practice. That's why it’s more efficient to become great at something you are already pretty good at and therefore, you have a passion for—your head start on the competition is already pretty sizable.
What are you doing to get better? What are you doing to get in the Hall of Fame? The Hall of Fame of Lit Support is title, salary, respect, and autonomy.
These issues do not need to be confronted solely in the bubble of self-analysis. Ask your friends, colleagues, and boss what you’re doing well and where you need improvement. Open up a net of inquiry and you may be surprised by what you pull up to deck.
It takes courage and self confidence to ask your boss “What do I need to improve on?”
Hopefully you have a 96 mph fastball to back you up.
If not, see my post on how to get a raise and a promotion without holding a gun to your boss' head.
In his article, “When Is It Time to Go?”, Godin makes the obvious point:
This is very common with admin staff and paralegals, but is equally true in regards to Litigation Support talent. I call it, "Up or Out".
"Doug needs to leave for a very simple reason. He's been branded. Everyone at the company has an expectation of who Doug is and what he can do. Working your way up from the mailroom sounds sexy, but in fact, it's entirely unlikely. Doug has hit a plateau. He's not going to be challenged, pushed or promoted to president. Doug, regardless of what he could actually accomplish, has stopped evolving -- at least in the eyes of the people who matter."
Godin’s advice to his friend, and I agree-- Get out ASAP!
Find a new challenging opportunity. Statically, tactically, and politically you need to continue to grow and advance. A new job means new opportunities, a new set of challenges, and a new salary scale.
The litigation support market is evolving at a furious rate. After all the years you’ve put into your career, you owe it to yourself to keep pace.
*Note that I advocate a move after 5 – 7 years, not 1-3.
The Cowen Group is a New York-based search firm that specializes in matching consultants and experienced professionals to staffing needs in Litigation Support, Practice Support, Forensics and Electronic Data Discovery, across the United States and Europe.
211 East 43rd Street
New York, NY 10017