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What's the Toughest Challenge for Women in e-Discovery?

April Runft

International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women around the globe. Many of those milestones take the public stage in social, political, economic, and cultural advancements we can all recognize and celebrate.

Yet many other accomplishments occur on an industry, company, or personal level.

Sharing stories of success—and, perhaps more importantly, lessons learned—is a great gift: the opportunity to learn from each other.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked a few of our female customers and industry friends across the world—and one of our own—to share their toughest professional challenges, favorite networking resources, and what they’re looking forward to in e-discovery’s future.

alison-grounds_100x100.pngAlison Grounds

Managing director at Troutman Sanders eMerge, Atlanta

What has been your greatest challenge in your career, and how have you approached it?

Launching eMerge—our law firm’s subsidiary dedicated to legal technology and e-discovery—in 2012 was a huge undertaking. There was initial skepticism as to why a law firm should provide advanced end-to-end technology services, so we had to convince our clients (internal and external) of the value of integrating legal and technology services through our firm. We had to build trust one matter at a time.

The first year was tough—I flew all over the country explaining the concept. But the work of our team of attorneys and technologists, on hundreds of matters, has proven the value of this adventure. We have grown every year since we launched and are even handling matters where the law firm is not serving as merits counsel. 

What are you excited about in the e-discovery industry?

I am excited about expanding the skills and tools we have developed for e-discovery into other legal areas. It’s a thrill to create new legal and technical approaches to challenges faced by clients in many different industries. For example, through attorney-led project management, leveraging custom technology solutions, including customizations to Relativity, and developing other custom technology solutions, we’re able to help clients with legal compliance issues in a wide array of areas including environmental inspections and real estate deals.

monica-dunne_100x100.pngMonica Dunne

Director, client technology at, Brisbane, Australia

What has been your greatest challenge in your career, and how have you approached it?

Like many business owners, my greatest challenge has been effectively juggling the competing demands of my clients, my employees, and my family. There are days where you hit the mark with everyone, and there are days where your carefully made plans are waylaid by something unexpected. You just have to treat each day as a new day, do your best, communicate effectively, surround yourself with great people, and grab with both hands the windows of time you can devote to looking after yourself.

What are you excited about in the e-discovery industry?

I’m excited to see the use of technology in litigation extending more seamlessly beyond disclosure into trial preparation and presentation. Until we transform the way matters are run in court to the same extent they have been transformed in recent years pre-trial, our job is not fully done.

karen-nowicki__100x100.pngKaren Nowicki

Director of engineering at kCura, Chicago

What’s your favorite business resource, networking forum, or affinity group in your area, and why?

kWow, kCura’s internal affinity group for women in technology, has been great to be a part of. Our focus is geared toward the day-to-day needs of our membership and has included programming around career confidence, mentorship, and volunteerism. kWow has also partnered on events with my other favorite local group, ARA—Attract, Retain, Advance women in technology—which has built a community around Chicago women in IT through its quarterly events and mentor program.

What has been your greatest challenge in your career, and how have you approached it?

My greatest challenge has been balancing my family and my career. You have to keep your priorities in mind: family has to come first for me. When you have children, you’re responsible for raising functional adults. But you also need a career to provide for that family. There’s no silver bullet, but for me, it comes down to prioritizing day by day, week by week to maintain both.

krista-connelly_100x100.pngKrista Connelly Mayer

Director of business development at CDS, New York City

What’s your favorite business resource, networking forum, or affinity group in your area, and why?

I am proud to be a member of the global advisory board of WILEF, Women in Law Empowerment Forum. WILEF’s mission is to empower women in law firms and corporate law departments to become leaders in the workplace. This year, we are excited to be celebrating our 10th anniversary. Helping women achieve their career goals and fostering the retention and promotion of women in law have been two of the most rewarding aspects of my career in e-discovery and legal technology.

What has been your greatest challenge in your career, and how have you approached it?

As a sales professional in e-discovery, the greatest challenge is staying ahead of the curve. The technologies, processes, legal opinions, and stakeholders that influence this industry are evolving at a break-neck pace. To keep ahead, you have to be dynamic and diligent. I am continually educating myself and my clients on strategies and new technologies that can help address the challenges associated with data-intensive litigation and investigations. Clients are much more sophisticated now than they were even one year ago. The conversation has shifted: it’s now more focused on gaining a deep understanding of a document set as quickly as possible by using processes that leverage intelligent analytics.

April Runft is a member of the marketing communications team at Relativity, specializing in content development.

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