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Tips for Hiring Litigation Support Specialists

Given the increases in electronic storage and data archiving, eDiscovery has exploded in recent years. That explosion has helped fuel a growing industry of legal support professionals, from attorneys to IT workers to project managers, who manage you eDiscovery needs.

But, of course, not all litigation support specialists are equal. Here are some tips to help you out in your search for the perfect match for your firm.

Technology Specialists, Attorneys, or Managers?

Before starting your job search, it's important to know just what type of specialist you need. If you need someone to deal with large data sets or mountains of electronic documents, you may want to hire a technology specialist who is capable of applying predictive coding, statistics, and "big data" analysis to eDiscovery.

On the other hand, you may just need bodies to help sort through eDiscovery. And eDiscovery, like traditional discovery, counts as the practice of law. That means you'll need to bring on some doc review attorneys. (For now, at least. In July, the Second Circuit at least entertained the idea that doc review could fall outside the definition of practice.)

Finally, if you have a particularly large project, you may want to bring on a project manager or litigation support manager. These workers provide day-to-day supervision along with long-term planning, guiding a project through from beginning to end.

Check for Certifications

There's no one standard certification for litigation support professionals. But, if you want assurances that a candidate's skills have been tested, look for those with some sort of professional certification. Organizations like the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists offer certification in eDiscovery, while paralegals, project managers, and other support specialists may have similar professional certifications.

Should You Hire Entry-Level Candidates?

Many firms will flat out refuse to hire candidates without prior experience in litigation support. On one hand, this makes sense. Litigation support jobs often temporary, requiring workers who can hit the ground running. When you've got thousands and thousands of eDiscovery docs to process, you don't exactly want to spend your time and money training someone who will be gone once the project ends.

On the other hand, a lot of this work isn't brain surgery. If you simply need bodies to help slog through discovery, an unemployed recent law school grad isn't going to be too far behind the contract attorney who has been doing discovery work off and on for a decade.

Plus, the greener the candidate, the less they'll cost -- and hopefully, the harder they'll work, desperate to impress as they may be. If, however, you're looking for a paralegal to help organize some last minute filings, or a discovery manager to whip your struggling office into shape, you might want to err on the side of experience.

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