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 Lekecia Barclay
Q. What is your favorite elevator pitch to describe what you do in the legal field?
A. For my day job I like to say that I take the evidence that is gathered in a legal matter and I make it into a format that is reviewable by attorneys. In my personal business, I tell laymen that we create automation software that reduces the amount of time it take for evidence in a matter to become review ready for the attorneys.
Q. What’s your title?
A. I am a Litigation Support Specialist at the Securities & Exchange Commission and I also partnered with my husband in a new e-discovery startup, DiscoverySmith.
Q. Does your husband do LitSupport as well?
A. Yes – that is how I ended up in it.
Q. So you’re at the SEC in Chicago?
Q. What advice would you offer someone who has potential as a leader, but needs that extra push to stand up and take the role?
A. What I would say, and this is the same thing that I tell myself, is that there is nothing stopping you but you. Nobody else’s opinion matters when it’s something that you want to go for. When I decided to run for the WiE Chicago Chapter Board, there was definitely a little anxiety as I had never run for any type of office but I also knew it was something I wanted and there was no reason to not go for it. If others are telling you that they see your potential to lead, believe them. We are our own worse critics and often can’t see what’s in us the way those looking at us can. Also, start small --don’t go running for president.
Q. As a woman leader – how have you navigated your role? How do you decide best practices or technology solutions?
A. As the WiE Chicago Chapter Assistant Director and as a startup co-founder, I find that as long as you are upfront and respect others, it makes you a more effective leader. I really do believe in leading by example. I would never ask anyone else to do anything I wouldn’t do or expect more from others than I expect from myself. When it comes to determining best practices, there are a lot of factors that go into that. One of the key ones is data. Using that data to stay ahead of the curve, being innovative. Not waiting to see what everyone else is going to do. When it comes to selecting technology, there are some with lots of bells and whistles. You need to be sure you’re picking the one that is helping you get the job done, not just the bright and shiny one.
Q. How did you make the move from individual contributor to leadership role? What was the biggest challenge in making that switch and how did you overcome it?
A. It’s funny – I always joke (and have for 15 years), that I am going to one day move back home and be mayor. That is what I’ve always told my family. I really feel like I was born to be a leader. One major factor in my stepping up and taking the chance on becoming a leader is that I finally know who I am and what I want. I spent many years trying to be what I thought I should be based on the expectations of others and it was horrible. I was getting nowhere in life and I was miserable. Once I started being true to Lekecia and stopped trying to fit a mold, I became much happier and accomplished much more.
Q. Do you have any tips for identifying personal career development needs? How do you find opportunities to build skills, knowledge?
A. The first thing you need to do, when developing your career is to look at what you want. Sometimes we think we know what we want, but it’s not really what we want. I went to law school, so I thought I wanted to be a lawyer…not so much. So I had to ask myself: What else can I do? That’s how I transitioned into LitSupport. Being a lawyer wasn’t making me happy. I don’t have a technology background, so how am I going to do this. My husband was a huge support. You need to find someone who will help you. Also – google was my best friend. I was able to research trainings, conferences, certifications, things that I didn’t know anything about and really grow my knowledge and skill level.
Q. What would you say is the hardest or easiest lesson that you’ve learning in your career.
A. The hardest lesson that I learned, was to not take ‘no’ personally. The easiest lesson I’ve learned, I learned while in law school from a speech from a professor. She told us to own our successes but also to own our failures. That’s a lesson that I have carried with me throughout my career.
Q. What do you love most about your job?
A. Helping the staff, understand the technology and how it will help them do their job. With DiscoverySmith, what I love most is being in charge!
Q. Haha that is great! This next question is something everyone on the content team had input on. When you’re in this LitSupport or eDiscovery field, you’re always working around the clock. How do you manage your time, do you have any tips or tricks?
A. When it comes to tips and tricks, the one thing I’ve noticed, when you get in first thing in the morning – go straight to work. We all have a tendency to, when we get in, you know you have to go get your coffee, a little chit chat – so you’re wasting a good part of the morning. Those are the most valuable hours of your day. I actually printed out a sign that says “Be Productive” in huge caps and taped it next to my computer. It’s a gentle reminder to start my morning off right by being productive. I’m also kind of a time freak.
Q. How do you mean?
A. I’m obsessed with time. Getting things done on time. If I say an hour, it’s going to take me an hour. It gives me anxiety not to get it done. I think that time obsessiveness leads to me being more efficient, hence getting things done faster but still done right.
Q. I can totally relate to that. Are you an early bird or a night owl and do you have any favorite routines?
A. I don’t consider myself either, even though I wake up at 5AM. It’s only because I have to work out. I’d much prefer to stay in bed. Not a night owl, because I love to sleep. I still want seven to eight hours of sleep. So I guess I’m somewhere in the middle of those two. As far as daily routines, I do DuoLingo every morning. It’s the one thing I’ve managed to do without fail for 1,435 days straight without missing a single day.
Q. What languages are you working on?
A. Spanish, Italian, German, and Japanese.
Q. Do you find that it’s helped, if you’ve been travelling to any of those countries?
A. It does! It helps when I meet them at conferences as well. I was at ILTACON and there was a lady there from Germany. I can’t speak it that well but it was really cool to meet and try chatting with someone from another country. Especially because I do kind of know what they are saying. Also with Japanese, it’s awesome to go to an authentic Japanese restaurant and not sound like a complete idiot when pronouncing the words. Although I’m sure they get a good laugh out of my Japanese with a Southern accent.
Q. Who were your mentors and how did you select them?
A. I didn’t really have any mentors.
Q. That’s a fair answer, it shows that you looked inside for strength.
A. I’m very self-reliant. It can sometimes be a hinderance, because I always want to figure it out for myself. I’m very self-aware. I know my strengths and weaknesses and I know what motivates me better than anyone else ever will. I think those qualities have helped me succeed despite not having anyone help pave the way for me.
Q. Do you have any books that have inspired you? What do you find inspiring about them?
A. I’ve read thousands of books, mostly legal and psychological thrillers but also I try to read a lot of African-American authors. I’m literally a book junkie so it’s hard for me to pick just one book that has inspired me but I recently read Tiffany Haddish’s memoir and her story definitely inspired me to continue pushing to achieve my dreams and to not allow circumstances you can’t control take away your hope. Another book that spoke to me in a different way was, Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi. It’s a tale of the fate of two sisters and their descendants where one was sold into the American slave trade and the other living in Ghana and dealing with the effects of the slave trade and British colonization. It really opened my eyes to the other side of slavery and how it also affected those left in Africa. It’s a story of survival and perseverance.
Q. How do you handle challenging personalities or tough projects?
A. I try to avoid challenging personalities.
Q. Haha, that is a great answer!
A. I like challenging projects. I like anything that will make me sit and think about a way to do it. It’s fun for me. I will obsess until I have an answer. That’s why I’m obsessed with the Japanese puzzles, Kakuro. The more challenging the puzzle, the more motivated I am to solve it. Easy is no fun.
Q. When I was researching for these interviews, I read a lot of amazing interviews. One of them, I am quoting from Oprah “As a woman leader, I feel like I have to be brave a lot.” This quote really jumped out at me. I wanted to ask, do you have any advice or tips on bravery?
A. The bravest thing we can do as women is to put ourselves first. We always put our jobs, our kids, our friends first, because we love to give of ourselves. Sometimes, we need to be brave enough to put ourselves first. Not all the time, but sometimes we need to be brave and do that. If I’m not happy, how am I going to make other people happy?
Q. The final question, probably most helpful for me as an interviewer… What questions would you like to see asked of other women leaders?
A. I think I would ask, how do they lead differently than their male counterparts? How do they see being a woman leader vs being a male leader? What do they do differently, meaning how did they navigate a male dominated world without being stopped by the glass ceiling?
Please check out:
"Women in eDiscovery Interviews: Part 1
""Women in eDiscovery Interviews: Part 3"#LitigationSupportoreDiscovery#Leadership