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What it Takes to Work in eDiscovery

It’s graduation season, which means there’s a new pool of bright, talented people weighing career options. Whether your background is in technology, business, or law, the world of eDiscovery offers ample opportunity to spread your wings.

We asked the Contact Discovery Team what kind of advice they’d give to their younger selves first starting in the industry. A few common themes emerged from their answers.

As more and more lawyers and new law grads consider careers outside traditional Big Firm Life, we thought it would be nice to offer up some advice to people considering a career in eDiscovery.

Always Be Learning

You are not going to learn everything in the first month. As technology advances so will our workflows. We will always be learning!”

– Justin, eDiscovery data engineer

One of the themes among the Contact team was the emphasis on continuous learning. eDiscovery is a great field for people who tend to be naturally curious anyway, and oftentimes the best discoverers lean into that.

A life-long learner mentality is an asset in a wide array of career paths, but eDiscovery is unique in that it’s the intersection of very different fields. Law, technology, and business can attract very different types of people; eDiscovery requires you to understand all three areas well enough to navigate between them and balance the concerns of all three.

CEO Dave DiGiovanni emphasized the importance of learning about all these areas rather than being a techie in law, or a lawyer in tech.

“There is as much to learn about litigation as there is about technology,” says DiGiovanni. “Don’t favor one over the other and balance your understanding of tech with your understanding of client business process.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions.  

If you don’t understand, ask for clarification… This is how you learn.”

Krista, Senior Director of Business Development

eDiscovery has a steeper-than-average learning curve, and most people don’t get a lot of formal education about it in school. That means almost everyone you work with has been “the new kid” before. They’re unlikely to judge you while you’re in the earlier stages of your eDiscovery career.  

“Both within Contact, and in the larger eDiscovery community, everyone is eager to answer questions and help you however they can,” says Anne Butcher, Digital Brand Specialist. “Any fear I had that asking questions would make me look stupid went away quickly. People are so warm and welcoming.”

Again, lean into your own curiosity. Your co-workers will admire you for it.

Be Ready to Adapt

“Change is the only constant. Be flexible.”

Sean, Lead Software Architect

Every case is different. Even within a single case, strategies can change as cases go on longer and longer. Laws change. Technology changes. Laws sometimes change precisely because of technological changes, and vice versa.

There’s so many variables that go into each decision at every stage of discovery. The variables that mattered most last week might not be the variables that matter most this week. It’s a business that keeps people on their toes, and for some that’s part of the fun. The fast pace of change does mean that adaptability isn’t optional, it’s a requirement.

“Learn the fundamentals (both legal and technological) because that’s what will never change,” says Director of Project Management Zack Schanz. “Be ready to keep learning because everything else is always evolving.”

Those who are quick to adapt to new evolvements can also have significant advantages over those that don’t. Assistant Director of Project Management Michael Fuchs reflects on the how much eDiscovery has changed since he first started.

“I’m probably aging myself but when I started it was all photocopying, scanning, and printing hard copy documents,” says Fuchs. “Even when electronic documents started to come into play people chose to print and review paper. eDiscovery and processing was sort of a niche at first and it paid off for those who recognized its significance and adopted it early.”

Keep an ear to the ground for new industry developments. In just a few years, we’ve seen sizable upticks in the adoption of cloud-based discovery, artificial intelligence, and collaboration platforms replacing traditional email. What will the future hold? No one knows, but it’s safe to assume that those who can adapt sooner rather than later will be the ones that thrive.