What Is a Litigation Support Professional?

Definition & Examples of a Litigation Support Professional

Woman working in a litigation support office
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A litigation support professional assists attorneys with complex lawsuits. They may build and maintain databases, review documents, retrieve records, and develop trial presentation materials.

Learn more about litigation support professionals and the work they do.

What Is a Litigation Support Professional?

Litigation support professionals assist attorneys in managing large-scale litigation. Litigation is the process of handling a case in the court system.

These professionals design and implement databases for managing, sorting, indexing, abstracting, and coordinating the large volumes of data produced in major litigation.

Litigation support professionals might also develop data management strategies, assist with technology in the courtroom, provide user support and training on both off-the-shelf and proprietary software, and coordinate with technology vendors.

Some litigation support professionals are paralegal/IT hybrids who perform traditional paralegal tasks while assuming information technology roles.

  • Alternate name: E-discovery professional

How a Litigation Support Professional Works

Litigation support professionals are primarily employed with law firms, corporations, and legal consulting firms.

Litigation support professionals often work in management roles, supervising IT staff, vendors, litigation support staff, paralegals, junior attorneys, and teams of document coders, and data entry personnel.

The annual salary for litigation support professionals varies depending on their level of experience and whether their role includes management responsibilities. New litigation support professionals can expect an annual salary of $61,500. Experienced litigation support managers can make six figures or more. Of course, this varies by firm, the area of law in which the firm predominantly practices, and by location.

Litigation support professionals are in high demand. As the industry evolves and litigation support technology becomes increasingly complex, the need for professionals with specialized legal and technological skills is expected to continually grow.

Requirements for a Litigation Support Professional

Litigation support professionals typically possess a four-year bachelor's degree in a related field and advanced technical skills and training on database and litigation support applications. You may also enter the field as a paralegal, which typically requires an associate degree.

In many law firms, educational requirements may be less important than acquired skills. Related legal experience in the range of four to seven years is preferable.

Some litigation support professionals possess advanced degrees, and some have even earned law degrees. An understanding of the discovery process is critical, so anyone with previous experience in this area would have an advantage. Discovery is the process of exchanging information between parties in a lawsuit. Today, discovery typically involves hundreds, or even thousands, of electronic documents, which is why litigation support professionals are in demand.

Desired Skills

Solid IT knowledge and familiarity with document management systems and trial presentation software, hardware, and graphics applications are critical to success as a litigation support professional. They must also have strong communication skills because their work involves a great deal of interaction with attorneys, staff, and vendors. It also requires exceptional organizational abilities, critical thinking skills, and keen attention to detail.

Certification

Certification is one way for litigation support professionals to set themselves apart from other candidates. The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists offers certification, which demonstrates knowledge of several skills, including data processing and document review. To obtain the certification, you must pass an extensive exam, provide proof of credits in e-discovery and other related fields, and two professional references. Your credits can be a combination of professional experience, education, and training.

Key Takeaways

  • A litigation support professional assists attorneys with complex lawsuits.
  • They perform a wide range of tasks, including designing and implementing databases and technology assistance.
  • They're typically employed by law firms, corporations, and legal consulting firms. 
  • They often have a bachelor's degree, but they also enter the field as paralegals or with a law degree. 
  • Litigation support professionals can obtain e-discovery certification, which shows potential employers they have experience and expertise in critical areas. 

Article Sources

  1. Robert Half. "2018 Salary Guide for Legal Professionals," Page 16. Accessed Aug. 2, 2020.

  2. Robert Half. "2018 Salary Guide for Legal Professionals," Page 7. Accessed Aug. 2, 2020.

  3. Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists. "CEDS Eligibility." Accessed Aug. 2, 2020.