Everything You Need to Know About Working as an eDiscovery Manager
If you’re considering a career in the eDiscovery industry as a manager, now is an excellent time to get your foot in the door. As a matter of fact, this is one of the most exciting areas of the legal industry and one that many legal professionals are now exploring.
Here’s some good news: companies and legal departments across the board are struggling to find and retain talented eDiscovery personnel. In other words, if you’re interested, you shouldn’t have a hard time finding work as an eDiscovery manager.
Additionally, the national average salary for an eDiscovery manager is now hovering around $73,000. That being the case, you have the potential to earn a decent income while making a name for yourself in an up-and-coming industry where your work can make a difference.
So, what exactly does it take to become an eDiscovery manager? Let’s take a closer look at what this position entails so you can figure out if it’s a good fit for you.
What Is an eDiscovery Professional?
An eDiscovery professional is someone who helps with the collection, analysis, management, and procurement of electronically stored information (ESI). This can include a range of documents like emails, text messages, digital photos, weblogs, and audio files.
Companies hire eDiscovery professionals to help maintain regulatory compliance and avoid expensive fines and penalties. A growing number of law firms are also building eDiscovery teams to streamline ESI management for their clients during legal proceedings. Oftentimes, law firms have clients use eDiscovery professionals to help manage files and evidence because it’s more secure and more efficient.
On top of this, many private eDiscovery firms are entering the market and offering consultancy services for companies and clients. Indeed, businesses often outsource eDiscovery operations to dedicated third-party providers to avoid hiring and managing full-time staff members.
All of this bodes well for eDiscovery professionals who have the talent and expertise needed to succeed in this emerging industry. All things considered, where you work largely depends on your background, interest, and skillset.
What Does an eDiscovery Manager Do?
There are many employment opportunities and career paths in the eDiscovery field, which we’ll touch on below. But one of the most in-demand and stable positions is an eDiscovery manager.
An eDiscovery manager is responsible for monitoring the entire eDiscovery process for their client or team from end to end. A manager typically works with other team members—including legal aides and attorneys—to help identify, collect, analyze, and produce documents for compliance audits and litigation.
Now that you have a better idea of what an eDiscovery manager does, let’s look at some additional job requirements.
Clients and team members often need guidance about the eDiscovery process. So, it’s up to the eDiscovery manager to walk them through the process, answer questions, and provide project timelines.
Managing Team Members
As a manager, you can’t operate as an island. A major part of the job involves working with eDiscovery team members and making sure they operate as a cohesive and productive unit.
Overseeing eDiscovery Cases
An eDiscovery manager ultimately needs to take responsibility for eDiscovery and oversee compliance and litigation to their conclusion. Oftentimes, eDiscovery managers need to juggle managing multiple clients and accounts. To be sure, this requires stellar organization and time management skills.
Requesting and Analyzing Documents
Managers typically start by analyzing the case and determining a course of action for requesting information. At large firms, eDiscovery managers may also have legal aides and specialists to help request and extract ESI.
Preparing Reports for Attorneys
Attorneys are usually very busy. As such, they don’t have time to dig through ESI and prioritize information. So, it’s often up to an eDiscovery manager to analyze information and prepare reports for attorneys. As a result, eDiscovery managers need to be able to prepare presentations and exchange secure information.
During eDiscovery, legal teams have to exchange sensitive and valuable information. What’s more, it’s up to the eDiscovery manager to work with other team members to ensure that digital information remains safe and private across all stages.
Other Kinds of eDiscovery Positions to Know About
The eDiscovery manager is usually part of a larger team of eDiscovery professionals who work together to maintain compliance and manage ESI.
Here’s an overview of some of the other common eDiscovery positions:
eDiscovery Document Coders
Coders are responsible for inputting data and managing eDiscovery databases. This position requires professional-grade coding expertise and technical knowledge.
Some companies hire eDiscovery specialists to analyze ESI and determine what information they should move forward in a case. Specialists may take on other administrative roles as well, like technical work.
Large firms sometimes hire eDiscovery directors to oversee all aspects and operations. These folks are responsible for all team members and projects.
Some successful eDiscovery professionals strive to be entrepreneurs. As such, they may use their reputation and industry connections to launch their own specialty practices. In many cases, professionals join forces with other eDiscovery specialists, business partners, or attorneys to maximize exposure and attract larger clients.
What Do You Need to Work As an eDiscovery Manager?
Struggling to pass the bar exam? Don’t worry, you probably won’t need a law degree to pursue a career as an eDiscovery manager. A bachelor’s degree should suffice.
Of course, if you happen to have a law degree, it can help advance your career—and your salary. That said, it usually isn’t mandatory.
In most cases, it’s more important to have real-world experience. Common examples include working in a legal, corporate, or eDiscovery environment. At the same time, you should also know your way around ESI management.
Before you embark on a career as an eDiscovery manager, you should also make sure that you have the drive and temperament to make it in this field. This job requires working with all types of personalities, meeting tight deadlines, and managing stress. It can also require working long hours and taking on difficult eDiscovery cases.
The Bottom Line: Is Working As an eDiscovery Manager Rewarding?
Working as an eDiscovery manager can absolutely be a rewarding experience. You will command a high salary, make tons of valuable connections, and build a solid career in a growing and evolving field.
At the end of the day, it largely depends on what you want to do within the eDiscovery industry. Spend some time thinking about where you want your career journey to take you. Some professionals love working as managers and overseeing projects. Others start as managers and discover they would rather pursue more technical or executive positions.
Regardless, taking a position as an eDiscovery manager can be a tremendous learning opportunity. It can also help you rack up excellent on-the-job experience.
How Software Helps eDiscovery Managers
For eDiscovery managers, visibility and communication are critical for success. And that’s doubly true when working in a busy environment managing multiple accounts. Without the right system in place, the process can seem overwhelming.
For this reason, most eDiscovery professionals today choose to manage ESI with software. A robust eDiscovery platform can also make it easier to oversee operations, request information, and manage projects.