I have spent a majority of my career in the litigation technology career field. There have been a lot of changes since I started in this very unique area of technology. There are so many aspects to this job. One day it is trial presentation technology. Another day it is correcting problems with load files and getting them to work in a document management system. It is a constantly changing world for us.
One of the things I have learned about this line of work is that there will always be people who will have more knowledge than me. In the beginning, I have to be honest and say that I wanted to be a “star” among my colleagues. I became the go-to person that others could call on. I volunteered to teach classes and spent time on committees and planning conferences. There was an early pioneer of the field who once said if you weren’t working 55-60 hours a week then you weren’t doing your job. I tried that and found that all I got was more work. It was a trap door of “what have you done for me lately” life of going from one thing to another.
My personal life at the time only added to that need for stardom. The breaking point came when I was in a committee meeting and another member on the committee totally destroyed any ideas I brought to the table. That person was a new rising star in litigation support and it was clear my own star was burning out. I have to evaluate my life and see what was really important to me.
In recent years I have learned to only do what I can do and leave work at work. That 55-60 hour work week is dumb. Get a life outside the office. In fact, the pioneer who said that passed away a few years ago. I often wonder if that mentality was the cause. I hate to break this to you but if you work those hours, when you die they will just hire someone else. That’s just how it is. There will always be someone else they can step in that can do the job better than you.
You and I might be called on to save a trial but it isn’t saving the world. We are good at what we do but we also need to share the knowledge. This isn’t magic where we can’t share our secrets. It’s actually to our benefit to share what we know. While there will always be those who know more, it benefits the whole litigation support community when we exchange our knowledge. I have had people to ask me how did I learn some things and I tell them it has usually been due to my experience. Getting in a jam and having to figure out a solution or being yelled at by a judge in the courtroom. In our field, there is no degree from a college or technical school. We have learned by doing and networking with others in our community.
In my opinion, there is no room for arrogance. Unfortunately, I see this trend increasing within our own ranks. We all need help with something so it’s good not to burn those bridges. I have called people only because I valued their knowledge only to be looked down upon because I either didn’t know the information or I wasn’t in their secret group. There is no need for this kind of behavior. I have learned invaluable advice from my colleagues in this field over the years. I wouldn’t have gotten this far without that help.
Here’s some advice I would offer from my own perspective:
- Those who want to be stars will eventually flame out
- Someone will always know more than you
- Do what you can do and do it well
- Share the knowledge
- Get a life outside of the office
We are all good at what we do or we wouldn’t be doing it. We all are strong in some areas and weak in others. Our job is to assist the legal staff with using technology. We aren’t competing against each other. If a colleague calls upon you for advice, don’t be condescending but feel good that they have confidence in you. Contribute to the community and your fellow litigation support colleagues. Help others in their quests to save their world.