How Do I Become a Litigation Support Manager?

Terry Masters

At least five years experience working as a support specialist for civil litigation and a proficiency with the technological tools used to manage document productions is typically required to become a litigation support manager. Two years of that experience should be at a top national law firm with multiple offices, if you want to become a litigation support manager at an elite level. Employers will have differing secondary requirements, but length and quality of experience with substantial proficiency in document databases are the most important commonalities across all openings for this position.

Law firms typically employ a combination of internal and external litigation support staff members.
Law firms typically employ a combination of internal and external litigation support staff members.

Law firms typically employ a combination of internal and external litigation support staff members. A firm might have a certain number of full-time paralegals employed, for instance, while also hiring a staffing agency or specialist firm to provide temporary or contract help. As a result, you can approach the litigation support manager position from any of several directions. You can work your way up to manager from an in-house paralegal position, or you could work for a staffing agency or litigation support firm and gain the requisite experience by being assigned to a law firm as a temporary employee on a case or by providing specialist support to multiple law firms as clients.

Entry-level litigation support, as a paralegal or otherwise, will almost always require a high school diploma. Often, a bachelor's degree is expected. Training can trump specific educational credentials, however. There are many paralegal certification programs offered at junior or community colleges or through proprietary schools. The vendors that develop the database software that law firms use to manage document productions also offer specialized training that can add significant value to your credentials.

To become a litigation support manager, you have to work in internal or external entry-level positions with major law firms on massive civil litigation cases. There is a significant divide between the type and quality of litigation support work at top corporate defense litigation law firms and the work done by legal outfits of other sizes. If you have enough major law firm experience, it will qualify you for a manager position there or any other place.

Most job announcements for the position will stress knowledge of the various technology options for document management. You will need experience in all of the major database software and proficiency with document processing and management as well as an in-depth knowledge of the hardware and software requirements for trial. To be seriously considered, your experience must demonstrate familiarity with electronic discovery and must show that you can manage vendors and conduct training in the use of litigation support technology. Written and oral communication skills, professional deportment, strategic thinking and the ability to handle pressure will be required of any candidate to become a litigation support manager for an elite employer.

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