For those of you still searching for that litigation support newbie opportunity, this is for you!
I would like to introduce you to two newbies. Both Darrin and Heather experienced the criteria below and were successful in joining the litigation support industry. I am so proud of both of them and I want to share them with you.
As I've said before, getting that first opportunity in litigation support requires the following criteria:
1) the right timing
2) a willing and able hiring manager
3) being persistent
4) taking the initiative
5) investing in yourself
6) making a good first impression
7) technical skills that come naturally
Darrin and Heather decided to take the summer intensive paralegal studies program at Georgetown University last summer. Darrin came to the DC area from Iowa. Heather came from Texas, however she is originally from New York.
The summer intensive program squeezes one year of night classes into 12 weeks of day time classes. At the end of the 12 weeks, they get a one month internship at a local law firm or service provider. These students basically quit their jobs and find temporary housing in the DC area to attend this program.
During the last 5 weeks of the program (the equivalent of the third semester), the students can choose between the general track or the eDiscovery track. Some of last year's summer intensive students attended the Georgetown paralegal program specifically for the eDiscovery track. Others had no idea what litigation support or eDiscovery was until they were already in the program.
Somewhere along the way, Darrin and Heather each realized that the technical aspects of the eDiscovery track came easy to them. They each became intrigued with the idea of a litigation support career, but they were not convinced they could do it. That is where mentoring came in. They each reached a point where they began to trust the feedback they were receiving from the Georgetown professors and from their fellow students.
As Darrin describes it, “my initial plan was to come out to DC, get the paralegal certificate, go back home and use it to my advantage. Not many people in Iowa have a degree from Georgetown. Now, 9 months later, I'm still here and in a litigation support position — a position that I love and never even knew existed until I took the program.”
Darrin elaborates, “my decision to take the Litigation Technology portion of the program wasn't an easy one. However, I considered myself tech-savvy and I have always been interested in technology. At the same time, I didn't know what Litigation Support entailed at the time. At the end of the program and the internship, I was still on the fence about whether I wanted to do litigation support or do the paralegal thing. Having confidence in yourself is one thing, but when others inspire confidence in you, that goes a long way. Had it not been for meeting people through the program that reassured me that I could do well in litigation support, I never would have landed in this industry.”
Heather says, “I moved to DC for Georgetown University's Paralegal Studies Program in hopes that it would give me some insight to the legal field, or even better, a career. It was during the Paralegal Studies Program that I was first exposed to Litigation Support. And finally, after countless hours of academic toil, I had my “Aha” moment. I knew that Litigation Support was what I wanted to do, and DC seemed like the best place to make it happen.”
Darrin landed at a service provider and Heather landed at a government contractor. They will forever be in my life and I am looking forward to watching them grow in their career path.
I hope their stories provide inspiration, motivation and hope to those of you still searching for a newbie opportunity. Remember the criteria listed above and keep in touch with me to let me know how it's going, okay?
Congrats to Darrin and Heather.