The worldwide job market may be slower than it was in Q1 of the past two years, but the panelists for the March 2023 Eye on ESI all agreed that huge e-discovery workloads still exist. Another point of agreement was on who was doing all that work: Contractors!
This month’s panel included ACEDS President Mike Quartararo; VP, Strategy and Client Engagement Maribel Rivera, along with two TRU Staffing Partners leaders: Annette Habib, Senior Vice President of Recruitment and Account Management; and Sarah Roberts, Vice President of Recruitment and Account Management. The four panelists covered the usual metrics with a lively spin, answered questions from the audience, and discussed the TRU Scholarship Program.
Speed of Hire: The New Normal
The TRU team began by discussing the set of usual metrics they cover each month. Roberts spoke about the speed of hire: “It’s changed a lot since last year. We’ve slowed down a bit in the beginning of this quarter as compared to the first quarter of the last two years,” she said. “We think the speed of hire will stabilize now. Law firms’ hiring has really slowed down, specifically because they’re holding out for people to come into an office.”
Salary Averages: No Bargain Pricing Available
Roberts noted that although the salary averages haven’t changed too much since the last Eye on ESI webinar, the hires TRU has negotiated in the past few weeks have been at the levels shown in this slide. For entry-level technicians, the salary across the US has been $65k to $75k at the point of entry for people with good, tenacious attitudes, but not much experience yet.
Roberts also said that entry-level people have seen some barriers to entering the e-discovery industry, but those who are succeeding in getting placed are showing a great attitude and are working hard to gain any practical experience possible. Those getting hired have a general excitement about being in the industry and then are really taking the initiative and getting industry certifications. Certifications help put those individuals above others in the job market with more tech experience because employers want to invest in candidates who have invested in themselves.
TRU Scholarship Program Offers Much-Needed Experience
Rivera then invited Roberts to talk about the TRU Scholarship Program. Everyone in the panel agreed that the scholarship program is perfect for people looking to gain experience in the e-discovery industry. “These scholarships help professionals gain experience, invest in themselves, and gain some of these technology certifications that they might otherwise not be able to afford,” Roberts said.
According to Habib, TRU has officially launched their annual scholarship program with 10 partners, and the opportunities range from in-person and online training programs to prep for taking certification exams. “One of our partners is ACEDS, who is offering one US and one Canadian training package,” Habib said. “A new partner this year is CDS Legal. They’re offering a paid internship: it’s a month-long, remote internship, up to 40 hours a week. They’ll provide the winner with a laptop, materials, and training, and teach them how to use their Relativity instance. This is a great opportunity for an entry-level pro to get their foot in the door with an e-discovery company and get some real hands-on experience. We encourage everyone to view the information on our website, and to apply before the deadline.”
“I want to stress, also, that the scholarships are not only for entry-level people,” Roberts added. “There’s a wide variety of scholarships. If you are more senior in the industry, you may benefit from training on some of the new tools that are out there. Or, you may want to diversify your background and learn different areas.”
“I’m always being asked for ways that people can up their skills,” Rivers said. “So taking advantage of the TRU Scholarship is a perfect opportunity.”
Contract Workforce Continues to Grow and Fill Gaps
Roberts moved to the Workforce Evolution slide and noted the contract workforce went up when fears of recession mounted. “As organizations are figuring out what to do, they will lean even more on contractors,” she said. “At this time, no one is going to get a salary deal (reduction) on a job seeker, especially in a law firm. Those salaries on the salary slide are still holding. If you’re willing to work in a hybrid capacity or go into the office for three days a week in a major city, you have a real opportunity to find a new role, either with a vendor or a law firm, and you can increase your compensation. If organizations are looking for a deal, that’s when they bring in contractors. Contractors hit the ledgers differently, and there are no benefits to pay.”
How to Transition to E-Discovery and How to Be a Contractor
Rivera asked Habib how she would recommend a person should go about transitioning from a legal professional to an e-discovery position. And then asked how someone would transition into e-discovery contractor work.
Habib suggested that candidates look for certifications that would help get them in the door, whether it be Relativity or ACEDS, and learn more about the industry. She also suggested they join essential groups and associations, start to network, join groups on LinkedIn, and meet people in the industry. “Attend key conferences,” she said. “Legalweek is coming up in New York soon – come to this event and meet us there. And go to the TRU website, apply for roles, and reach out to TRU recruiters to help introduce you to key employers. The right company will see how eager you are to break into the industry and provide an opportunity.”
TRU and ACEDS teams will be at Legalweek in New York, March 20-23, offering more advice about certifications, training, the TRU Scholarship Program results and how to assess the job market. Join us there for networking events, to meet TRU talent agents, and learn more about areas of professional development.