The paralegal profession was created out of whole cloth. Sometime about 30 years ago, someone (I don't know who) had an idea to title a person who was moving out of the legal secretary position but not quite into the associate position, a paralegal. On top of that, whoever this person was, figured out that the paralegal could get paid more dollars and -wait! wait! don't tell me! - could also get billed out handsomely to the client but not so handsomely as to scare the client away.
Fast forward to the present, and the paralegal does it again. Only this time, it's called……(drum roll, please) – an eDiscovery Paralegal. Hot, hot, hot, folks. The field cannot get enough people for these positions. Literally. It's very hard to find a person who doesn't need to be lawyer but does need a thorough understanding of the law and who doesn't need to be a computer programmer but does need to be techie savvy. Kind of a techie/quasi-lawyer hybrid.
Is there such a person? There sure is if you are a paralegal well-versed in eDiscovery and technology. Here is a sample of a job posting for just such a person:
"eDiscovery professional with a Paralegal background. Lead eDiscovery efforts within the company’s Corporate Legal Department. Support document retention and electronic discovery (eDiscovery) in multiple locations throughout the world. Manage the tracking and storage of voluminous corporate documents worldwide.
Develop and implement processes related to document retention. Interface with in-house and outside counsel to manage electronic discovery (eDiscovery) collections and productions as part of the litigation discovery process. Collect electronically stored information for production in litigation matters.
Knowledge of: EDRM, the Sedona Principles, ESI, Sanctions, Triggering Events, latest technology, the discovery process, New Federal Rules, collection procedures, processing & review procedures. Must be able to work well with legal service providers. Must be familiar with: Documentum, Symantec Enterprise Vault, EnCase, ARMA, Information Risk Management; IPRO, Relativity, iConect, Concordance, Summation, FYI and other programs."
Salaries are excellent ranging anywhere from $60,000 to over $100,000 depending upon several factors (plus overtime in many instances.) You can work for a law firm, in-house legal department or a vendor. The position has upward mobility opportunities. You are not locked in as a paralegal with only a junior or senior level designation for the rest of your career. You don't hit a hard salary ceiling because you'll never make partner. You actually get off a sticky floor.
In fact, if you are a paralegal and have the skills and given that eDiscovery is a) here to stay b) exploding as each minute ticks; and, c) crying out for someone with your background, why wouldn't an enterprising paralegal jump for an opportunity like this?
Probably because the eDiscovery field is so new that there are no real standarized job descriptions, titles or, for that matter, formalized training. Aha! I say. That's changing. And, yes, I'm bringing to your attention The Organization of Legal Professionals (www.theolp.org) because this non-profit is offering a new, online, interactive 8 week course that is going to give you the right formal training to put to use and skills to create a position within your firm or other entity.
That's what paralegals do. The history of Paralegals is consistent: get the training and then figure out that they can create positions because……..law firms need them and law firms will buy what they need. The paralegal position is the only job within the legal field that is flexible enough to allow creativity to develop positions directly in line with current trends. Think about it: legal background, technology, team player, non-attorney, essential to the overall operation and profit of a law firm. You simply take your background and roll it into the ever-changing needs of a firm, giving yourself a new title and moving up an otherwise invisible career ladder.
Paralegals did this with case managers; litigation support positions (most lit support managers came up through paralegal); the paralegal administrator; trial specialist and other positions. And now, the eDiscovery Paralegal.
Take the Advanced eDiscovery (Next Level) course with The OLP. It starts on Tuesday. It meets twice a week for 8 weeks, is taught by very seasoned pros and gives you a solid understanding of eDiscovery past the basics. Paralegals have done it before and will do it again: taking skills, knowledge and know-how and meeting the needs of the firm and the client in previously undefined but necessary jobs. It's power – sure as shootin', it's power.