Eye on ESI is a lively, interactive quarterly meeting sponsored by the Association of Certified Ediscovery Specialists (ACEDS) that provides the latest data on industry hiring trends.
For their regular quarterly webinar on the state of the ediscovery job market, Jared Coseglia, Founder and CEO of TRU Staffing Partners, joined Michael Quartararo, President of ACEDS, and Maribel Rivera Vice President of Strategy and Client Engagement at ACEDS, to discuss industry trends and practical tips on job search and professional development issues. Attendees included seasoned and newer lawyers and ediscovery and legal technology professionals who eagerly posted questions to engage the panel in a lively discussion.
In the third and final installment of this three part blog series, we recap questions from the audience, break down the hottest tips from the conversation, and wrap up the recap of this fantastic ESI webinar series.
Paralegals & ediscovery pros: What's the difference?
Rivera read a comment from the audience about paralegals and ediscovery: There is a disconnect between lawyers that are hiring for paralegal roles and hiring someone for ediscovery services. They seem to expect that it’s the same role.
Quartararo said there is some confusion about paralegal roles. It depends on what type of paralegal work you are doing and how much you touch ediscovery as part of the paralegal role. It’s the litigation paralegal that is dealing with ESI who does the online research for documents and gets in the weeds. There are so many layers. The confusion comes from firms who need to decide who does exactly what during an investigation. While paralegals should be involved in discovery in general, there aren’t too many cases where they are calling the shots.
Coseglia said one distinction to make is whether the person is an in-house paralegal or an outside counsel paralegal. Those in-house pros often have been expected to do document search and retrieval. They aren’t doing complex collections with a third-party client, they work internally with a structured dataset and have key stakeholders, like in an internal investigation. In these situations, TRU redirects corporate clients away from hiring paralegals and points them to forensic/ediscovery data pros who can do that type of role. An outside counsel litigation paralegal is generally a relationship-driven person with close working relationships to attorneys they work for. These paralegals have career mobility by moving up to bigger law firms and more money.
What makes a good ediscovery pro GREAT?
What specific skills do the great ESI professionals have?
Rivera noted that some of the skills needed are the soft skills like communication, consultation, and customer service.
Also, she said it was important to manage up, out and down in all situations.
Coseglia said that key traits are responsiveness and proactiveness. A great pro should be on the front lines to get ahead of problems and be visible to all stakeholders.
Quartararo suggested that pros offer solutions to issues that litigators encountered before being asked about them. Walk the floor, find out what problem areas they have and deliver solutions. Also know your resources. If you don’t know the answer, go and find someone who does.
Rivera asked that with a possible economic downtown starting this year and recession next year, are more firms hiring more contract workers instead of full-time employees? Coseglia said that wasn’t happening yet. It’s still a pretty hot, high demand for all types of mid-market and higher-level ediscovery pros. However, TRU is seeing an uptick in contract augmentation but it isn’t a downtick in hiring. While the volume of overall jobs is trickling down a little bit, it’ still a hot, open market. He said that we know we aren’t in a recession right now (yet). So, it’s important to know that if you are thinking about changing jobs, now is the best time to take advantage of the market.
If you're one of the many people who hasn't changed jobs since the pandemic started — or if you're one of the 40% of workers who did move, but are thinking of moving again — ask yourself if you're ready to make a move. If you wait too much longer, you will miss out on a hot job market that's about to cool off swiftly. Take action by applying for an open position, or submitting your resume.
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