The Common Scold

The Common Scold is named after a cause of action that originated in Pilgrim days, when meddlesome, argumentative, opinionated women who displeased the Puritan elders were punished by a brisk dunk in the local pond. Believe it or not, the tort lasted until 1972, when State v. Palendrano, 120 N.J. Super. 336, 293 A.2d 747 (N.J.Super.L., Jul 13, 1972) pretty much put it to rest. But the thought of those feisty women, not afraid of a little cold water, has always cheered me up and inspired me. I first used the moniker as the name of my humor column at the University of San Francisco School of Law many moons ago, and revive it now for this blawg!



The Cowen Group, a New York-based legal recruiter and consultancy, has announced the results of its 2009/2010 eDiscovery and Litigation Support Professionals Salary Survey. According to managing partner David Cowen, 487 professionals at 100 major firms shared their salary data with TCG for its 5th annual report. The data was gathered between November 2009 and February 2010.

PM As usually occurs, salaries are highest on the East Coast, lowest in the central part of the country. TCG broke the results into six different categories, with these median 2009 base salaries and projected 2010 East Coast figures:

* analyst $67,500 ($72,000)
* specialist $91,000 ($93,000)
* project manager $115,000 ($125,000)
* regional coordinator $135,000 ($145,000)
* national manager $165,000 ($205,000)
*  firmwide director $267,000 ($295,000).

Biggest trend? Cowen told Law Technology News that he sees legal project management exploding for both attorneys and non-attorneys. Firms are embedding "legalists" (read: attorneys) into lit support, and everybody's comfortable with that model, he says.

Of course, you'd expect a headhunter to say people are the first priority, but Cowen says savvy firms are recognizing that successful e-discovery requires investing in "people, process, and technology" -- all three, not just one or two. He cites Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Fulbright & Jaworski; Wilmer Hale; and Chicago boutique EimerStahl as among the industry leaders using this approach (none are his clients).

What surprised him? Despite the turbulent economy, most professionals who were pink-slipped weren't out of work for more than a few weeks, and that there was a small uptick in salaries.

And, as George Socha and Tom Gelbmann predicted in LTN last August, one of the biggest 2010 EDD challenges isn't hiring, it's retention. Firms that don't provide coaching, training, and other career growth opportunities may find key professionals walking out the door.

Cowen's bottom line is a familiar refrain to LTN readers: It's all about better, faster, cheaper; transparency; and aligning legal and business goals. "If you are going to be successful in this new, new world to have to engage in enlightened management techniques that have been long established in Fortune 500 corporations. You need to run your firm like your clients' [companies]," says Cowan.

June 17, 2010 in EDD: E-Discovery, Hiring & Retention, News & Analysis | Permalink


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