An IT Advantage

An Advantage of Former IT in Litigation Support

People that transition from IT to litigation support have an interesting advantage. I have noticed it time and time again.

Much of the technical work we perform in litigation support can be repetitive, step by step, “just get it done” tasks. However, some technical work can be trial and error.

Some examples would be:

1. We are using a new software program.

2. We are troubleshooting an unexpected error message.

3. Something goes wrong with the steps we have taken, an unexpected result occurs.

4. We are not sure how to accomplish the task at hand and we need to figure out how to get the result we need from the dataset we have to work with.

5. Working with new file types we've never had a chance to work with before.

Those that have previously worked in IT roles have a higher level of confidence when it comes to technical tasks. But it is more than that. When there is an unknown component to our workflow in litigation support, a former IT person will instinctively “try something else” or “select a new option” with much less hesitation and with a higher level of confidence.

There is an underlying trust in the outcome. A former IT person understands the difference between a nominal error and a more serious error. They are less afraid to move forward after an unexpected occurrence.

One of the hardest things to teach a newbie with a less technical background is that it is okay to try another solution or that an unexpected result is not the end of the world. Newbies tend to be afraid of breaking things or causing irreparable harm to the dataset.

One of the things I like to do when training a newbie in Concordance for instance, is to tell them we can always just recreate the database if something goes wrong. I tell them about the Zap feature which will empty a database so they can start over. I also teach them about backing up the database prior to importing new data. In other words, I help them realize that they don't need to stress out. We can fix most things.

Have you ever felt a little afraid to “click that button”?



  1. I come from a legal administrative support background, but have found that MOST things we do in technology have an “undo” option, whether it be accessing the back up of your database, getting a restore from the systems team, or that handy little undo button. But as you mentioned, Amy, the key is to make sure that you have backed up your data before you do something new to your review set.

    As for the native data sets, we generally employ a “when in doubt, make a copy” methodology. If you experiment with a data set that is a copy, you have little to worry about, since it is a copy. Your original data is safeguarded because you aren’t using it.

    Great post, Amy!

  2. I’m often afraid to click that button. But I am currently seated with the IT group as the Litigation Support person and I have more confidence knowing they can fix anything I mess up. I ask these guys lots of questions and they rarely look at me as if I have two heads, so there’s a level of comfort knowing I have them backing me up. And if I do manage to make a big mistake they always seem to have a way of bringing everything back to its original state.

  3. Excellent post Amy.

    The critical thing that I train people is back things up first!

    Ringtail being SQL based is a complex Beastie and so its quite unforgiving with ‘undo’. So we endeavour to update data rough the front end and load files and only ‘tickle’ the back end SQL tables as a last resort.

    Re IT having an advantage, the flip side being they may be overconfident.

    I’d also add being a logical thinker, meticulous, and wanting to investigate and figure things out are very important too.

  4. Nice thoughts Amy; coming from an IT background myself into Litigation Support, I can relate. What I found most rewarding it to “partner up” with someone on the staff that carries the “legal side” of the brain along with my “technology side” of the brain. In my particular case, having that “team” (which was a former paralegal and I) to shift the load left and right (so to speak – if we’re talking left/right brain functioning) gave us a tremendous advantage in creatively solving problems. So much, as you mention, is behind the “Easy Button” that many think we push all day long.

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