There’s a well-known gap between technical and legal in the e-discovery industry. Every year that gap shrinks a bit smaller—but not by some happy accident. Bridging the two disciplines takes hard work and perseverance from people willing to put in the time.
Cristin Traylor is one of those people.
As discovery counsel at McGuireWoods, Cristin works tirelessly to keep her team on track with the ever-evolving legal and technological landscape. And last year, Cristin was recognized for her contributions to the industry by winning the Attorney Tech Evangelist award at the Relativity Innovation Awards.
Here’s a bit more about Cristin and her journey to the big win.
Innovating from Day 1
In 2002, Cristin was working on a large paper document review that was about to go digital. During a training with a software vendor, she and her team asked a barrage of questions—ultimately highlighting some problems with the vendor’s proposal.
“As we were walking out of the meeting, one of the young partners on the case pointed at me and two associates and told us to stay. He asked our opinions on how the database and electronic review should be structured, and the next thing I knew, we were running the project,” Cristin recalls.
The case lasted over four years, and by the time it was over, Cristin became known as an “e-discovery guru”—a moniker that she continues to live up to today.
Following that project, McGuireWoods pulled Cristin into more and more discovery projects until, eventually, e-discovery become her sole focus. She started managing the firm’s Richmond Review Center, where she oversaw a team of contract attorneys, legal assistants, and discovery attorneys working on various e-discovery projects. Then, with the industry picking up pace, McGuireWoods formalized the Discovery Counsel Services Group—which Cristin has been a member of ever since.
“That young partner who asked for my opinion is now my department chair,” Cristin says. “He changed the course of my career just by asking me to stay after that meeting, and he helped me discover a hidden talent for bridging the gap between technical and legal.”
Bridging the gap certainly takes talent, but it’s more than that. Cristin has put in a ton of work to get where she is today, and she uses that tenacity to help more and more people level up their skills, too.
For example, she’s a member of the McGuireWoods Practice Innovation Office, which is responsible for evaluating, recommending, piloting, and approving novel approaches to serving firm clients and improving the legal practice. For her part, Cristin also encourages her team to keep a pulse on ever-changing technology via self-paced learning, sharing ideas on ways to improve processes and procedures, and even by attending demos from different tech companies.
“I believe it’s important to challenge people to think outside of the box and come up with innovative solutions using technology. We can better serve our clients if we are always developing new ways to be more efficient and creative,” Cristin says. “My team is also very self-sufficient, and I support them in any endeavor to become experts in Relativity. If they understand the features of the platform, they are better able to come up with solutions when faced with new challenges outside of our normal workflows.”
Advice to Work By
With five Relativity certifications under her belt, Cristin is a bona fide Relativity Master and knows technology like the back of her hand. She’s one person you’d definitely want to take career advice from. And luckily, her words of wisdom are simple: Start with a goal.
“It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work and not think long-term about where you want to be and what you want to do in the future,” she says. “Research whether certain certifications will help you in your job search and improve your performance in your targeted job. Master the technology, then be the person who comes up with innovative solutions.”
Additionally, Cristin says building a network is crucial to success, especially in this industry.
“Attend as many local and national e-discovery events as you can. A large part of this practice area is about networking and making connections with people,” she says.
Winning the Award
When it comes to winning the Innovation Award, Cristin says the experience was surreal.
“To be honored on that stage in front of thousands of my peers was humbling. I was truly grateful for the recognition of my hard work,” she says. “It has personally inspired me to advocate for even more innovation at the firm, so that I can live up to the award.”
Today, Cristin looks back at the awards as a great reminder of the support from her peers and her community, even from people she’s never personally met.
“The support I received from the entire Relativity community was amazing. I loved meeting people who would say ‘I voted for you’ even though they didn’t know me. My second favorite part was the awards ceremony itself: I felt a little like a rock star standing under the lights and in front of all of the people.”
Want to learn more about Cristin? Jump over to the Relativity Community site for the lightning round.
Kristy Esparza is a member of the marketing team at Relativity, specializing in content creation.