Advanced Litigation and Advanced Trial Technology, Georgetown School of Continuing Studies
I have been a practicing attorney for almost 20 years–as a law clerk for a state court trial judge, and as a litigator in a small firm and for a city government. But about ten years ago, when my last job as an associate for a sole practitioner began to sour, I fell into the vast pool of contract attorney document reviewers in Washington, DC. And, I liked it. While the work was not glamorous and did not carry the prestige of being a litigator, I discovered I was well suited for it. I could read quickly, make decisions about the documents quickly, and did not mind spending long hours in front of a computer. At least at the time, the money was actually better than anything I had made previously, and the flexibility of the hours suited my family situation.
So, when the opportunity arose to become a staff attorney at one of the biggest law firms in DC, I jumped at it. At the firm, I continued to do document review, but there was more. My experience in document review was treated as an asset, and, compared to contract work, I got to experience much more of the review process. I supervised contract reviewers, got to work closely with associates and partners in designing and managing the reviews, and even got to direct the collection and loading of documents into the review. I also had extensive contact with vendors, documenting and trying to solve problems with the review software, with mixed success.
Still, there wasn’t much room for advancement at the firm, and eventually, I was downsized in January after seven years. Without too many other places to turn, I fell back into the great contract attorney pool. Although I was given an offer to return to my previous firm at a lower pay rate, I turned it down. I figured being a temp would be better motivation for finding a new position. As I quickly discovered, the contract attorney world had changed in my seven years away. When I started, the pay rates were around $35 an hour, and there was lots of, if not unlimited, overtime. Now, I was lucky to get $30 an hour, capped at forty hours a week. Motivation indeed.
Being underemployed, if not unemployed, left me with a big decision as to where to take the next phase of my career. After much thought, I decided to stay in eDiscovery and/or document review, but I knew I needed to expand my knowledge base if I wanted to open my career opportunities. This probably meant getting some more education. In meeting with various people in the field, and doing my own online research, a number of possibilities arose. These included becoming ACEDS certified, and getting certified as a project manager.
Why I Wanted to Attend this Class
This is by no means intended to be an advertisement or endorsement of TRU Staffing Partners, but I would be remiss in not mentioning them. I was not aware of TRU Staffing until I answered an ad of theirs. In the midst of speaking to one of their recruiters, she mentioned that TRU Staffing was offering a number of scholarships for Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, and encouraged me to take a look. Of the available choices, there were two which appealed to me. One was the DTI/LitWorks course, and one was the class in Advanced Litigation and Trial Technology. I figured that class might fill in some missing pieces in my resume, and could only help me in my career search. So, I applied to both. To my surprise and delight, I was granted the scholarship to the Advanced Litigation class. After finding my way to Georgetown’s main campus to purchase the textbook, and checking that there were no homework assignments for the first day, I arrived at the branch campus for the first class.
My Expectations and the First Class
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I got to class. I had a basic idea from the syllabus of what we were going to cover, and I figured I would learn something, but I had no clear idea as to how deeply we would cover the material, or how I would be able to use this new found knowledge in my job search.
During the first class, the professor went around the room and asked each person to say a little about themselves, and to rate how technical they were. As it turns out, I was only one of two attorneys, and I was one of the most technically apt people there. After the first few minutes, none of that mattered.
As the professor explained, the class will be based on the EDRM model. That suited me just fine. I am familiar with the model, as it is one of the industry standards, but other than the “review” section, I don’t have much experience with any of the other “blocks” on the chart. He also explained that the chart is the “10,000-foot view” of the EDRM spectrum, and that during the next few weeks, he would take us down only to the “5,000-foot view.”
There will be a lot of material to cover in a short amount of time. During the course, we are promised some hands-on experience with some of the software. My next entry will cover what we covered in those classes, but so far, the experience has been positive. Even though I probably would not have selected this class on my own, I am grateful for the opportunity, and I think I will learn a lot.