1 Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists o 10 predictions for the legal technology job market in 2014 Jared Coseglia President Tru Staffing Partners January 9, 2014 Originally appeared on ACEDS.org at 2014/ The legal technology job market is about to experience yet another revolutionary alteration. Sweeping changes in process, pricing and vendor intervention will dynamically affect the available opportunities in the job market. Here are the top ten trends you need to know about and embrace in order to plan your future in 2014 and beyond. 1) Law firms will do less and less technical heavy lifting in-house. In 2013, many firms began the arduous process of downsizing the amount of talent and technology they maintain behind their firewalls in order to collect, process, host, review and produce their own data and discovery. Firms that had invested heavily in enterprise licensing tools in order to create profit centers are going to lean on vendors to do the work in the future. Departments that once boasted 20+ litigation support professionals with over two-thirds of their talent focused on technical execution have and will continue to downsize. Analysts will be eliminated, and if they are replaced, it will be with project managers (often with JDs) who can consult on the sophisticated process management of e-discovery. There are exceptions to this rule. Some large firms continue to maintain robust in-house resources, outsourcing very little and leveraging technologies like Recommind and Relativity to provide their own full-service discovery life cycle solutions. These exceptions will hire some technical specialists and will prioritize those with SQL and programming skills, as well as sophisticated project managers with dense experience in firmwide enterprise applications and exceptional communication skills.
2 2) Processing fees will slowly become obsolete, but the need for processing talent will remain steady. Just because vendors are charging less (or nothing at all) for processing e-discovery does not mean vendors will not still need to hire processing talent to get the work done. Yes, more sophisticated tools will aid in high-volume, high-speed processing, but talent will still be needed to operate these tools. However, do not expect vendors to pay top dollar for processing expertise. Salaries for processing-specific talent will remain flat and possibly even decrease. Many vendors will spend more time training existing talent to do this work rather than hiring new people. 3) Senior project managers salaries will soar at law firms. As law firms require more sophisticated technical project and process management, salaries will rise. They are already rising. Senior project managers at law firms in New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco can command base salaries as high as 125K-175K annually. Firms want project managers with law firm experience and refined communication skills. But this talent pool is not motivated to move laterally for a similar job at another law firm. They know there is likely no vertical mobility and that it is highly unlikely that there will be greater quality of life from firm to firm. So how will firms entice talent? They will simply pay more. They have to. And they are. 4) Managed review will slowly replace document review. It is commonly known and accepted that the amount of document review attorneys needed or desired for traditional linear document review is decreasing daily with the adoption of TAR, CAR, machine learning, and/or predictive coding. Companies that are holding on to traditional business models and revenue streams from hourly staffing on contract review attorneys will desperately attempt to maintain those streams, while e-discovery providers will continue to take their market share by integrating technology earlier in the process to dynamically reduce data sets long before attorneys set eyes on anything. For career contract attorneys this means less work. Professional reinvention will be necessary in order to compete for the more lucrative and challenging jobs where attorneys are tasked with utilizing technology to mitigate risk, cost and time pressures by corporate clients.
3 5) Vendors will buy other vendors not for their talent or technology but for their client base. There is a serious drought of mobile sales talent in the market, particularly in Washington, D.C. Vendors are running out of runway to hire sales staff from competitors and have to find other ways to get new streams of revenue. Several years ago, vendor acquisitions were made in order to acquire a unique piece of technology (i.e., Viewpoint/Xerox, TransPerfect/Digital Reef), but now vendors will buy other vendors simply to consume their client base and bolster revenue. More and more e-discovery players are publicly traded companies and have investors with bottom lines. If you cannot hire the competitors sales talent (and why would you, when their books of business are almost never portable?), why not just buy their business completely? Many owners are concerned by the combination of an increasingly uncertain future and significant profit compression and are more willing than ever to sell. 6) Vendor consolidation will mean higher salaries but fewer permanent jobs. The year 2014 will be one of continued consolidation in the market. Many vendors will not survive the price compressions occurring in processing, hosting and contract attorney hours. Vendors will consolidate (take a recent example, Inventus buys Teris, San Francisco). When they merge, many will do more with less in terms of talent. People who are not top performers will be laid off. Technicians will be replaced by advanced technology. In order to retain top performers, especially project managers whose relationships with clients ensure repeat business due to exceptional client service, service providers will increase compensation for superstars. However, doing more with less is not sustainable if a service provider is lucky enough to bring in even more net new business. Burnout is a real factor in job satisfaction and talent retention, and while more money might keep those superstars happy in the short term, quality of life, balance and vertical mobility are all much more potent motivators for those who are considering their options in the candidatedriven e-discovery job market. 7) Temporary litigation technology staffing will increase by 20-30%. Because there will be fewer full-time permanent positions available in the market, vendors, law firms and corporations will rely on temporary staffing to support the ebbs and flows in their needs. And the talent is out there. Firms transitioning from fully in-sourced to mostly outsourced models will need temporary staffing solutions to get through the transitional period. On the other hand, firms that have decided to bring in enterprise licenses for Relativity,
4 iconect, Ringtail, Viewpoint, Summation Pro and other hosted review/fully integrated e-discovery applications will need temporary talent to migrate data from legacy applications like Concordance. These temporary staffers will not be contract attorneys, but rather highly skilled technical professionals. Due to factors mentioned above, these temps will mostly come from the vendor space. This is not bad news. On the contrary, contractors can make significantly more money in compensation due to overtime hours and gain deeper and broader expertise through the variety of work. 8) Relativity licenses are up for renewal. Relativity dominates the market as the most popular hosted review application. The year 2014 will mark the end of many existing Relativity contracts in place for firms and some corporations, particularly at the enterprise level. Relativity continues to try and integrate processing and legal analytics into its tool, but competition is fierce. The renewal of these licensing agreements for firm, vendors and corporations will dynamically impact the landscape of the talent market. The demand for talent with Relativity skills will continue to be overwhelming as Relativity is deeply embedded in much of the market, but there are many more RCAs than there were three years ago. Relativity certified administrators will still command top dollar, but those hard tech skills will become easier to find, especially on a temporary basis, as competition and new innovation prevail in the market. 9) Service companies are becoming software companies. The clear distinction between an e-discovery service company and an e-discovery software company has completely blurred. Companies like Driven Inc., featured as a powerful up-and-comer in the Gartner Magic Quadrant [insert link] this year with its unique Driven ONE platform, clearly self-identify as software operations providing service. CDS Legal, well known for its dominance in service in the New York market, has launched a potent new software tool Nytrix that integrates machine learning into a CIY (Control-It-Yourself) environment of software as a service. FTI s Ringtail 8 has long fostered this hybrid model. Xerox s Viewpoint has gained tremendous market share at some of the largest firms in the country integrating software and service. Selling software or services is no longer mutually exclusive in the space. This will impact who is selling, how they are selling, what they are selling and how vendors will maintain hold of their existing and future client bases.
5 10) Corporations are not hiring in-house. Contrary to wishful thinking, corporations are not building inhouse e-discovery response teams in large numbers. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, like JPMC, but these are extremely rare and likely unsustainable for long-term professional career growth for the masses. The market is so competitive that corporations can lean on vendors and outside counsel to get incredible pricing, especially with managed service contracts. They do not need middle-market talent to do the work in-house. Some high-level hires will be made, but most roles will be filled by promotions from within rather than hiring from the outside. It is easier for a corporation to train someone who understands its complex data infrastructure on the basics of e-discovery than it is to teach an e-discovery professional the nuances and complexities of in-house data repositories and systems. About the author Jared Coseglia is the Founder and President of TRU Staffing Partners (www.trustaffingpartners.com) and has been a go-to individual in the staffing and recruiting field for a decade. He has successfully placed more than 1700 people in full-time and temporary positions at the AmLaw 200 and Fortune 1000, and within the Legal Technology Service Provider community. Coseglia is an active member of the Litigation Support community. He can be reached at