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Cowen Group Predicts Higher Salaries for Litigation Support Project Managers in 2010

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The Cowen Group has just released a snapshot of its fourth annual salary survey for litigation support professionals and the job market for litigation-support project managers is looking strong.[1] Their salary findings support their predictions in their "Critical Trends" report, published in January, which noted the increasing need for litigation-support project managers, stating that the role "will gain greater prominence in the industry due to the increasing size of datasets and heightened concern around controlling cost, limiting risks, and guaranteeing  outcomes."[2] 

According to this survey, salaries are projected to increase by eight to fifteen percent. Unsurprisingly, salaries are highest in the Eastern states. The projected base salaries, by U.S. region, for litigation support project managers in 2010 are:

EAST: 125,000

CENTRAL: 100,000

WEST: 115,000.[3]

In an interview with Monica Bay of Legal Technology News, Managing Partner, David Cowen said that the biggest trend seen in this years' survey was that

legal project management [is] exploding for both attorneys and non-attorneys. Firms are embedding "legalists" (read: attorneys) into lit support, and everybody's comfortable with that model.... 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).[4]

His biggest surprise from this year's survey was that, in addition to the increased salaries, laid-off litigation support professionals were not out of work for more than a few weeks.

Cowen's comment on embedding attorneys into litigation support confirms a trend I've noted before on this blog: the lawyerfication of litigation support.[5] I am not so sure, however, that everyone is comfortable with that model. Some in the industry have opined that lawyers are not well equipped for e-discovery project management (much less litigation-support project management in general),[6] though it does tend to be the non-lawyers holding this opinion. Lawyers have, unsurprisingly, advocated for lawyers managing e-discovery projects.[7] 

Certainly the attorney-in-charge has overall responsibility for managing a legal matter,[8] but in large, complex litigations. e-discovery is generally treated as a sub-project or project phase, often with multiple project managers involved. The EDRM Project Management Framework envisions an "e-discovery team" approach with project managers from the law firm, corporate client, and legal-technology vendor working together.[9] While nice in theory, there tends to be quite a bit of jostling around, or worse--great uncertainty--over who is ultimately in charge of the project and responsible for ensuring that it is done on time and within budget. It is an area that corporate counsel need to more clearly address with outside counsel. With the project-management contenders warming up in all three corners of this triangular ring, some noses are going to get bloodied if roles are not clearly defined at the beginning of the e-discovery project.



[1] The Cowen Group, 2009/2010 Salary Survey Snapshot, available at http://www.cowengroup.com/researchcenter/salarysurvey/2009-Snapshot.pdf (last visited June 18, 2010).

[2] Paul C. Easton, Cowen Group: It's a Hot Job Market for E-discovery Project Management, Legal Project Management, April 16, 2010, http://legalprojectmanagement.info/2010/04/cowen-group-its-a-hot-job-market-for-e-discovery-project-management.html (last visited 6/18/2010).

[3] Cowen, supra note 1 at 1.


[4] Monica Bay, Daily Alert, Law Technology News, June 17, 2010 (e-mail sent Sent at 4:12 PM (GMT+01:00).

[5] Paul C. Easton, The Lawyerification of Litigation Support: Is a Legal Education a Benefit or Just Baggage for an E-discovery Project Manager?, Legal Project Management, Friday, September 25, 2009, http://legalprojectmanagement.info/2009/09/the-lawyerification-of-litigation-support-is-a-legal-education-a-benefit-or-just-baggage-for-an-e-di.html (last visited 6/18/2010).

[6] Id.

[7] Paul C. Easton, Do You Have What it Takes to be an E-discovery Project Manager?, Legal Project Management, Tuesday, September 15, 2009, http://legalprojectmanagement.info/2009/09/do-you-have-what-it-takes-to-be-an-e-discovery-project-manager.html (last visited 6/18/2010).

[8] Paul C. Easton, Sedona Conference Highlights Project Management as Key to Quality, Legal Project Management, Wednesday, June 10, 2009, http://legalprojectmanagement.info/2009/06/sedona-conference-highlights-project-management-as-key-to-quality.html (last visited 6/18/2010), quoting principle one of the The Sedona Conference® Commentary on Achieving Quality in the E-Discovery Process, which states:

Principle 1. In cases involving ESI of increasing scope and complexity, the attorney in charge should utilize project management and exercise leadership to ensure that a reasonable process has been followed by his or her legal team to locate responsive material.
The Sedona Conference, Commentary on Achieving Quality in the E-Discovery Process (2009), available at http://www.thesedonaconference.org/dltForm?did=Achieving_Quality.pdf (last visited June 18, 2010).

[9] Socha Consulting LLC & Gelbmann & Associates LLC, Electronic Discovery Reference Model: Project Management Guide § 3.1, available at http://edrm.net/resources/guidelines/edrm-framework-guides/project-management#3-1-the-three-entities (last visited June 18, 2010).


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This page contains a single entry by Paul C. Easton published on June 18, 2010 11:04 PM.

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