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3 Lessons Female Leaders Taught Me (That have Nothing to Do with Tech)

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About a year and a half ago, I joined the e-discovery field. Having been a healthcare reporter for two years, acronyms like the EDRM and TAR were foreign to me.

After a couple months, I learned the industry lingo. I also became more confident in my role as a customer marketer in the field. Soon after, I became involved in a project that I have become incredibly passionate about: Stellar Women in e-Discovery. The goal was to connect with and showcase more female leaders in the industry. I aspired to learn about their careers and how they got to where they are today.

Stellar Women has evolved from an idea to a blog post series, to an award at our annual conference, to a podcast. Along the way, it’s also fostered a growing community of people who are excited to elevate emerging female leaders in technology.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from connecting with all-star leaders in the legal and technology space.

#1: Mentorship is Invaluable

Every stellar woman I connected with had her own unique path to share. No two journeys were identical. That said, most had a mentor who helped them navigate their careers.

What makes for a fruitful mentor-mentee relationship will vary. There are some practices, though, that can lay the groundwork necessary to build a productive relationship. Stellar Women podcast guest Mary Mack, executive director of the Association of Certified e-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS), shared some of best practices, including:

  • Form clear goals. Know what you want to get out of the relationship. Identifying clear goals will help in two ways. First, it will determine what you are looking for in a mentor and allow you to seek out the best person related to that goal. (Want to bolster your communication skills? Consider seeking a professional whose demeanor you want to emulate.) Secondly, it will help shape how you want to structure the relationship.
  • Formalize the relationship. Many mentorships happen organically, and those are often very successful. It is still important to explicitly define that relationship. This way, expectations are set and the relationship can reach its full potential.

#2: Leaders Should Build the Community

Let’s face it: everyone is busy. In the e-discovery business, client requests often roll in well beyond the 5:00 p.m. mark. It is hard to find the time to reflect on those who are impacting our careers.

But giving accolades is no small thing. Since the inception of the Stellar Women podcast, guests’ friends and peers have reached out to congratulate them on their nomination. Even those small outreaches mean a lot to their recipients—and they’re often sure to return the favor.

For example, Joy Murao won our first-ever Stellar Women Innovation Award at Relativity Fest last year and shared what the nomination meant to her.

“This nomination has been a beautiful representation of the 24 years I’ve been in legal technology—bridging the gap between lawyers and IT,” said Joy, principal consultant and founder of Practice Aligned Resources. “Receiving the award was the culmination of a journey I’ve taken with a lot of my peers.”

Recognizing others has an individual-level impact and extends into the broader e-discovery community. It is like a domino effect. Seeing a colleague receive recognition for doing amazing things may inspire others to recognize a peer.

“By honoring achievements of women in the industry, we’re actively encouraging a greater participation of women,” said Rebecca Grant, founder of icourts. Rebecca was a guest on the podcast earlier this year.

#3: Being Stellar Has Many Meanings

When we set out to highlight leaders in the space, we didn’t set specific criteria on what this entailed. We had themes in mind, including a dedication to mentorship and innovative thinking.

At its core, the definition of “stellar” depends on what the community perceives it to be. One person’s passion for legal education may have inspired someone to nominate them. To someone else, a leader’s ability to enact positive change makes that person an all-star in the field.

Every podcast guest has inspired me in many ways. Through Stellar Women, I have become a podcast (soon to be) star, learned new skills, and ultimately, made new friends throughout the industry.

If you know a leader in the space who has inspired you, please nominate her at relativityfest.com.

Mary Rechtoris on Email
Mary Rechtoris
Mary Rechtoris is a member of the customer advocacy team at Relativity and a host of the Stellar Women in e-Discovery podcast. She is interested in telling stories of the legal industry and showing the human side of technology. Mary attended the University of Iowa where she specialized in creative writing.

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