Do You Want a Career in eDiscovery?

I did not grow up dreaming of becoming an eDiscovery Specialist.  I wanted to be an astronaut but to be fair, there was no such thing as eDiscovery when I was a child and I was not on a career path to become an astronaut either.   My life path took me in this direction.  My career evolved from legal assistant to IT Specialist to Litigation Support Specialist to eDiscovery Engineer.  

That's where I am today.

This is not exactly the kind of career field which gets an invitation to speak on career day at school.  It wasn’t the career path I chose but it was one that chose me.  It is something that has been a fit for me at this time in my life. 

So how does someone get into eDiscovery?

Although you can’t get a college degree in eDiscovery, you can start in a field related to Computer Science or Legal. As an eDiscovery Specialist you need knowledge in both the computer technology and knowledge of legal procedures.  If I were advising someone interested in eDiscovery as a career, I would advise to specialize in database management and get a job with a law firm or federal/state attorney’s office.  Then seek certification in litigation support software such as Relativity, iCONECT or whatever software is commonly being used. I wouldn’t stress over which one because if you specialize in something it will usually translate well to whatever is being used. I would also highly recommend certification in Certified E-Discovery Specialist (CEDS)

So, what do you need to be an eDiscovery Specialist?

Good troubleshooting skills - You will not always have perfect data to work with and there is a lot of detail involved in processing data.  You need to possess good troubleshooting skills with little or no supervision.  The only way you can get good a troubleshooting is having things that are wrong which need to be fixed.  Experience is always a good instructor to develop your troubleshooting skills.

Attention to detail - You can't rush through processing eDiscovery.  Believe me, I am impatient and want to get things done but if you get it right the first time you won't have to go back and fix your mistakes.  Be thorough and patient with the process.

Be Organized - You HAVE to be an organized person and capable working with little supervision.  Quite often you will be working several jobs at once so you need a method of keeping track of the stages each job is at in processing.  I use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet but use whatever is necessary to keep yourself organized.

No, it’s not a glamorous career choice but it is rewarding when you zoom out to see your contribution to the big picture of the litigation process. I enjoy my job because it still challenges me.  I will be honest that it can be frustrating many days but I realize that I keep working through it. I am always learning.  I doubt that I will ever hear my grandkids say that they want to be an eDiscovery Specialist when they grow up but this is a vocation which needs good people.  As the data continues to evolve and data sizes increase, more people will be needed to manage it for clients.

How much money can you make?

This is ultimately a question people will ask.  Fair enough.  Obviously, your income will be determined by your skills, experience and where you work.  On the average, most eDiscovery Specialists earn between $50,000-$75,000.  Among the perks is that you could work remotely - especially today.  Again, the possibility of working remotely depends on the employer.  

If you are interested in learning more about eDiscovery careers, check out the following links:

From the days of dealing with banker's boxes of paper to today's world of data in many forms, this career field is constantly changing.  If you enjoy a challenge and a vocation that is changing, a career in eDiscovery might be one for you.


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