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We already know the legal profession is changing at the same pace, and in some areas, a faster pace, than other career specialties. One relatively new job description within this area is that of an electronic discovery, or e-discovery, professional. This $2 billion (and growing) industry is changing the way information is gathered, stored as well as the legalities behind the electronic methods.

These folks are the ones who can quickly assess where the accurate information is, and then legally obtain it, identify it, process it, review it and then provide it to his legal team for further consideration in various court cases. For many, it’s just another way of providing support to an area’s litigation department. A. Harrison Barnes, career coach and founder says for those who thrive in the legal field, but who are just beginning to pursue their law degrees or for those lawyers who discovered too late that they don’t want to practice law or that they can earn far more as an e-discovery expert, will often find what they’re looking for in these roles.

Not surprisingly, most of who are in this field already have some degree of legal education, but for those who don’t, there are a couple of ways to break through. Those with certifications as a paralegal will often see an easy transition, says A. Harrison Barnes. Also, an extensive understanding of technology, and specifically, the internet is a must; generally an IT background serves the purpose. Much of what these professionals do is learned on the job and might include:

  • Ensuring compliance and custody chains are maintained
  • Collect and analyze electronic information
  • Work with the legal team as a whole; and in fact, these personnel might be the only ones who see the team in its entirety on a daily basis
  • Meet with clients to discuss information that’s been gathered

Perhaps the best part of these new career opportunities, says the founder, is the salary expectations. In a big city market, some personnel can earn – as a starting salary – up to $125,000. It’s easy to understand why many attorneys are opting for this arena versus actually practicing law.

Fair warning, however; this industry, while it’s fast growing, has already exploded by more than 300% since 2004. While growth is expected to continue, now’s the ideal time to break into this specialized area. By the end of 2011, it’s expected to become a $21.8 billion industry.

Whether you complete your duties working solo or as part of a team, there’s no denying the attraction of an e-discovery expert. It’s rare anyone gets in as a career avenue is unfolding, which makes it that much more attractive.

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