As a content coordinating volunteer for ILTA, I was interested to learn more about our female leaders of today. In May of 2018, my ILTA colleague Chandra Foreman was able to put me in touch with the Chicago Chapter Board of Women in eDiscovery. As a non-profit organization, WiE holds monthly meetings for legal professional women with a primary focus on education and networking. They also collaborate, fundraise, and mentor. I enjoyed taking the interviews and am sincerely excited to share them with the ILTA community. “Women can empower other women” as Jennifer Roe so eloquently put. I hope you find these interviews as fun and insightful as I did.
Interview with Jennifer Roe, Director of the Women in eDiscovery Chicago Chapter.
Q. What is your favorite elevator pitch that you use to describe what you do to someone that is not familiar with the legal field?
A. As Chapter Director of the Women in eDiscovery Chapter I am passionate about ways that women can empower other women. I do that by overseeing our chapter seminars and committees to foster mentorship and networking opportunities to women in the legal technology field. In my full-time role, I am managing director of Hire Counsel. We are one of the countries largest privately held legal staffing firms. I assist clients with managing their eDiscovery and document review projects and I also place legal contract professionals (such as paralegals and attorneys).
Q. What advice would you offer someone who has potential as a leader but may need that extra push to stand up and take the role?
A. Number one, if you don’t have any opportunities at your place of employment, look for ways you can volunteer. If you are in the legal field – there are lots of opportunities to volunteer. Legal aid clinics, women’s groups. Get involved, volunteer, see if you can get on the board. The second is, reach out to other women or people in your field that you admire and ask them if they would be a mentor to you.
Q. As a woman in leadership, how have you navigated your role? How do you determine best practices, how do you determine technology solutions?
A. I take a project management approach to everything that we do and I encourage everyone on the team to do the same thing. It’s make and manage several checklists to help keep me organized. Making sure everyone is clear on what responsibilities they have. Evernote is a great technology solution that helps keep me organized and productive.
Q. How did you make the move from individual contributor to leadership role? What was the biggest challenge with making that change and how did you overcome it.
A. I started out on the board as our Assistant Chapter Director but had been a member for several years prior. I think the biggest challenge has been balancing my full time job with leading the Women in eDiscovery Chapter. Since all of the board members I serve with have other full time jobs we work together as a team by communicating each week and establishing defined roles.
Q. Do you have any tips for identifying personal career development needs?
A. As a woman, taking on that leadership role – there is always that potential fear of failure. Having a mentor, having someone that is going to give you not only critical feedback on things that you can improve on but that is also going to be your cheerleader. People are so afraid to reach out to someone that they admire. Our goal with women in eDiscovery is that women can interact with and meet people going through the same challenges they are.
Q. What was the hardest or easiest lesson that you’ve learned in your career?
A. The hardest has been to be open to constructive criticism. It is quite eye opening to hear from someone else their feedback on your work or how you managed a project. Sometimes that criticism isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We all get stuck in good and bad habits. You shouldn’t wait for a yearly performance review to identify those, you should be reaching out to your mentors and colleagues for feedback throughout the year.
Q. What do you love most about your job?
A. As the Chapter Director for the Women in eDiscovery Chicago Chapter is working with the amazing women I serve on the board with! Together we work on connecting other women in the legal field with educational and networking opportunities. As Managing Director for Hire Counsel I love being able to work with corporate legal departments to provide strategic solutions to their staffing and project needs.
Q. How do you manage your time, do you have any tips or tricks?
A. Checklists and my Outlook calendar. I live and die by my calendar reminders. Even if I want to block out two hours to work on something, I do that. Creating and completing those checklists, that makes me feel accomplished.
Q. Would you consider yourself an early bird or a night owl, do you have a favorite morning or evening routine?
A. I am definitely more of a night owl and I wish I was more of a morning person. We all have very busy careers, when you go to bed your mind is racing about what you need to do tomorrow. You need to just write everything down. This is everything I need to accomplish and everything I want to accomplish.
Q. Who are your mentors and how did you select them?
A. Initially it was colleagues that I had found at work. Recently, it has been through the women I have worked with and connected with in the Women in eDiscovery Chapter.
Q. Name a book that has inspired you and why.
A. There are so many! There is a book I read and it’s a little dense. It’s called, “How to have a Good Day” by Caroline Webb. It’s about harnessing the power of behavioral science to harness your life. It’s about how you cannot just let the day happen to you.
Q. How do you handle challenging personalities or challenging projects?
A. I try to find a way to connect on a personal level with someone that I am working with. This helps me find out a little bit more about them and what makes them tick. Taking someone out to coffee or lunch is a good way to get to know them on a personal level.
Q. Oprah famously remarked “As a woman leader in the corporate world, I feel like I have to brave a lot.” Do you have any advice or tips on bravery?
A. Women need to be brave, but they also need to have faith in themselves and their skills. You may have heard the following quote, “Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.” It’s not just in applying to a job, it’s in everything. In the corporate or legal world, you need to be clear what you’re asking for. Have confidence, whether it’s the job, the promotion, or the raise.
Q. What would you be curious to know about other women leaders?
A. The biggest thing for me is balancing it all. How do you balance being a leader, having a career, being a mom…having a family. Balancing the personal and professional fulfillment. We live in an era where we are on 24-7. Everyone answers their email at 10PM. You get wrapped up into trying to do everything. I am always interested in learning more about how other women in leadership roles manage their schedule and their personal lives.
Please check out:
"Women in eDiscovery Interviews: Part 2"