The growth of jobs in the litigation support and e-discovery industries have led to new management roles. Two key leadership positions in this legal niche are the litigation support manager and the firmwide director.
Litigation support managers and firmwide directors wear many hats: technology guru, e-discovery advisor, human resources manager, vendor coordinator, litigation support consultant, marketing guru and best practices instructor, to name a few. In large firms, the manager leads the litigation support function in a business unit or department while the director's leadership extends across the entire organization on a national or global level. In smaller firms, the litigation support manager and litigation support director are one and the same. Regardless of whether the organization is large or small, the duties of the manager and director are similar.
So what does it take to land a role as a litigation support manager? What skills and competencies are essential to success? Although the job description and required skills vary with every organization, below is an outline of the key skills essential to most litigation support manager and director jobs.
Leadership - Litigation support directors are growth and strategy leaders who coach attorneys on technology initiatives, assist with strategic issues and help choose and implement firm-wide or corporate-wide technology platforms.
People Skills - Knowing how to manage people, divide workloads and inspire the workforce is an important skill set for litigation support managers. Many managers also perform human resource functions such as recruiting, scheduling and supervising staff and developing policies and procedures.
Technology - Most litigation support managers have worked in the trenches. They know how to use the tools, load files and manage and design databases. They understand the technology and how it can be used in all stages of litigation and in the courtroom.
Marketing - Marketing, both external and internal, is an essential part of the litigation support management role. Directors must excel at marketing the skills of litigation support personnel (technology investments can be a tough sell to some attorneys) and evangelizing the firm's technological capabilities to other departments, attorneys and clients.
Presentation - Presentation skills are another important asset for legal managers. Managers and directors lecture at continuing legal education seminars, provide in-house presentations to attorneys and paralegals regarding technology uses and assist attorneys with client presentations.
E-Discovery Expertise- E-discovery is a growing area and one that litigators cannot ignore. Directors teach attorneys and paralegals how to manage electronic discovery and consult with in-house personnel and external clients regarding compliance with e-discovery rules and developing case law.
Finance - Part of the successful management of litigation support is preparing and managing litigation support budgets and ensuring that projects remain with operational cost parameters. Directors must be able to assess data and information and translate it into schedules, costs and projections.
Business savvy - Litigation support managers must manage litigation support departments like a business with a focus on producing revenue, maintaining profitability and recuperating costs. Managers must monitor the costs, productivity, quality and performance of litigation support efforts and vendor projects.
Vendor Management - The litigation support function is supported by a variety of third-party vendors. Mangers are responsible for managing relationships with third party services, temporary agencies, litigation support service bureaus, software companies and other vendors.
Best Practices Advisor - Litigation support directors and managers are responsible for developing, documenting and implementing best practices with respect to document management, e-discovery risk mitigation, operating procedures, technology procurement and other aspects of litigation support.
Resource Management - Managers are also responsible for managing internal and external resources to ensure efficient operation of the litigation support department and maintain profitability within the group.
Coaching and Mentoring - People are an organization's most important resource. Managers must be proficient at coaching, mentoring and developing their team to prevent attrition and to help all team members function to the best of their ability.
Strategic Planning - Managers establish and champion a strategic vision for their organization or department to help steer its destiny and chart a path to success. As part of this process, managers must establish goals and measurable objectives and set standards of accountability for people, programs and resources.For more on litigation support managers, review this career profile and this guide to litigation support careers.