While my work experience as a paralegal and legal assistant has been limited to the traditional law firm environment, as someone who is interested in the future of my profession, I wanted to find out what other hats a paralegal or legal assistant could wear. I decided to try and find someone who has worn both hats.
My search led me to a phone meeting with Linda Ahrens, a Project Manager with D4. D4 is a rapidly growing company, headquartered in Rochester, which specializes in providing electronic discovery, computer forensics and litigation support services to AMLAW200 firms and Fortune 1000 companies. While Linda is based in the Washington, D.C., area, she is able to service the entire Central and Eastern time zone. Linda is the single point of client contact on each of her projects from start to finish.
Linda’s background was in litigation, where she worked as a paralegal within a law firm in Pennsylvania until she decided to go in a new direction. She told me most of her work training was self-taught. D4 also provides her with on the job training opportunities which she takes advantage of. Despite leaving her traditional paralegal role, she manages to stay involved in the legal community as a member of Women in eDiscovery, which has chapters all across the country.
Linda credits her paralegal experience in helping her succeed. She uses the organization and critical thinking skills her background provided her and applies it in her role as project manager. Her paralegal experience also greatly familiarized her with electronic discovery. Understanding how electronic discovery (e-discovery) is used in legal proceedings and more importantly how to collect it, is a skill set that is becoming more and more valuable to legal support professionals since clearly e-discovery is here to stay. Besides having a rewarding and up-to-the-minute job, Linda stays busy with a husband, a nine year old daughter and two dogs.
At a time when there are so many legal support professionals looking for work it can be difficult to find employment in the traditional areas. Innovative paralegals might want to consider expanding their job search to see if their skill sets match a non-traditional paralegal opportunity and, if so, take their skills and expertise and explore job opportunities that are beyond the traditional law office.
Upcoming events to look out for: PAR’s 4th annual Casino Night on April 12, as well as the ESAPA 25th Anniversary Celebration Conference on May 3, in Saratoga Springs.
Stefanie Medina is a paralegal with Fero & Ingersoll.