by Kristy Esparza on August 19, 2016
As we gear up for Relativity Fest this October, we wanted to feature these tips for professionals in e-discovery, which were inspired by our Women in Legal Technology luncheon at last year's show. It's among our most-viewed posts on The Relativity Blog, and we're proud to give it the spotlight again. Don't forget to register for this year's show to attend the 2016 panel of inspiring women. All are welcome!
At Relativity Fest 2015, we held a “Women in Legal Technology” luncheon, where three panelists from Millnet, Shepherd Data Services, and Troutman Sanders shared the milestones that paved their careers in e-discovery. When we asked attendees if we should host the event again next year, a resounding “Yes!” filled the room.
Call us impatient, but we didn’t want to wait a whole year to hear more from the brilliant women who make up this industry. So, we reached out to a few friends for their advice on working and getting started in e-discovery.
Emma Kettleton, director of the e-discovery project management and consulting team at Millnet
What she would say to someone who just joined the industry: “Make friends and learn from other people. It’s a really small niche industry, so when you’re starting off, you really need to form relationships and meet people because they’ll be able to help you along the way. And once you are along the way, you’ll be able to chat and exchange stories with them and learn even more.”
Best advice she’s ever received: “If your client has to ask for an update, you didn’t do your job properly. If you’re really in control of your e-discovery project, your clients will feel in control.”
Christine Chalstrom, president and CEO of Shepherd Data Services
How she landed in e-discovery: “In 1995 and 1996, I was running a law office and had a case with around 5,000 pages of paper—which seems really small in comparison to what we have today—and I was trying to think of a better way to organize the documents. A friend of mine had started a company that helped with that kind of thing, and I was hooked almost immediately. I started converting everything to digital. Around that time, I involved myself more in technology, rather than the practice of law, and the technological possibilities absolutely fascinated me. So, I quit the law practice and joined my friend’s ‘e-discovery’ company.”
Best advice she’s ever received: “A friend of mine said, ‘Hey, why don't you start your own business?’”
Nicole Guyer McMurrian, e-discovery project manager at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd
How she landed in e-discovery: “I was working as a case assistant at a large law firm in San Diego, and the litigation support manager had just purchased e-discovery software and asked me if I wanted to try it out. It was by chance that I fell into the position.”
What she would say to someone who just joined the industry: “Don’t come to work just for the paycheck. You want to be challenged, you want to learn, and you want to grow. Break out of your comfort zone and keep an open mind. As long as you’re in a position where you’re expanding your mind and learning new things, you’re going to be fulfilled.”
Yvette Bula, senior director of e-discovery solutions at Commonwealth Legal
How she landed in e-discovery: “I got my start in e-discovery around 16 years ago on a contract with a national law firm working on a massive litigation matter. Commonwealth Legal was also involved in providing support for the litigation matter, and I was offered an opportunity to join the team after that contract ended.“
What she would say to someone who just joined the industry: "Join a respected and talented team and leverage the knowledge of that team to build out your experience and exposure in a meaningful way. Collaboration is the cornerstone to growth, and I have been extremely fortunate in my career to have had the opportunity to work with some of the finest minds in the industry, and to be a part of a company with a commitment to education and growth.”
Caroline Pollard, manager of e-discovery services at Ballard Spahr
What she would say to someone who just joined the industry: “Don’t assume you have to be perfect. There’s a learning curve for everything—from understanding regulation and case law to knowing where and how data is stored and what can happen to it. You just have to jump in and start learning. Educate yourself by following the industry blogs, paying attention to the thought leaders, and building a good relationship with vendors. I learned so much working with vendors when I first got my start. The person I worked with when I first started now works for me, and to this day, I continue to learn from him.”
Best advice she’s ever received: “Understand what you know by understanding what you don’t know. Be open to change and other people’s ideas.”
Nancy Daniel, vice president of client services at Altep
How she landed in e-discovery: “My entire career has been in litigation support, beginning in a law firm where I was fortunate to work with highly productive attorneys and a forward-thinking managing partner with a heavy caseload. We were always vetting the latest technology to assist with managing the many moving parts of discovery, and implementing new technology in the firm was an exciting responsibility. I then transitioned to a large energy company in corporate IT where I continued to provide technical and application support. e-Discovery was a natural evolution in my career, and I ultimately came to work as a service provider for both corporate and the law firm.”
Best advice she’s ever received: “Never underestimate the human component. Technology will continue to change, the tools will continue to evolve, processes will be honed and improved, and artificial intelligence will expand—however, the heartbeat of every organization rests in those who come to work every day, those who make the decisions, those who are committed. The differentiating factor in any part of life ultimately lies with the people.”
Judy Torres, vice president of information services at Altep
What she would say to someone who just joined the industry: “Realize it’s not just a ‘9 to 5’ job, it’s a life. You have to be passionate about data, about technology, and about innovation, but most of all about learning. Each day, no matter how well versed you are in e-discovery, how much of an expert you are in the process, there is something to learn. My advice is to learn it all—become a generalist in all facets of e-discovery, but become an expert in the area you love.”
Best advice she’s ever received: “Throughout history, people with new ideas who think differently and try to change the way things work have always been called troublemakers. Be a troublemaker! Innovation isn’t finished, everything has not been invented.”
Meagan Sauve, e-discovery consultant at Millnet
What she would say to someone who just joined the industry: “Don’t be overwhelmed. There’s a lot of jargon in this industry, and it can be really overwhelming if you’re not a legal or IT person, and that’s okay. Stay calm and take it as you go. Eventually the puzzle starts to come together.”
Best advice she’s ever received: “Read everything from the perspective of somebody who doesn’t know what you’re talking about. Learn to communicate clearly both at a very technical level and at a basic level.”
How did you get your start in the industry? What's the best advice you've ever received? Let us know in the comments.
Kristy Esparza is a member of the marketing communications team at kCura, specializing in content creation.