Women Who Lead (Participation Open to All Leaders)

Women in eDiscovery Interviews: Part 8

By Phil Weldon posted 08-09-2018 08:54

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 Jigna Dalal (Director – WiE Washington, DC Chapter)

Q. What is your favorite elevator pitch to describe what you do to someone who is not familiar with the legal field?

A. I develop processes to apply machine learning to increase the efficacy of legal matters.

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. Fake it till you make it! Raise your one had to be a leader and many hands will rise to support your leadership.

Q. As a woman in leadership, how have you navigated your role? How do you determine best practices? Select technology solutions?

A. I have relied on my accomplished team to bring wealth of experience, strength, and creativity. I like to rely on adventurous people rather than settled people. I like to take a successful processes and then, break it; so I can improve the process. I do my best to surround myself with people who enjoy breaking things.

Q. How did you make the move from individual contributor to leadership role?

A. I have a mentor who believed in me before I did. My mentor saw my potential and gave me the break I needed to raise my hand. I am glad I faked it till I made it. I am proud to say that I am paying it forward by promoting other worthy leaders.

Q. Do you have any tips for identifying personal career development needs?

A. I do my very best to meet diverse people for coffee/lunch/drinks, attend conferences, seek out online webinars, and lots and lots of reading of industry articles. I prefer to meet people of all different levels to gain different perspectives. Each different encounter will leave me wanting to learn more about a topic. I am grateful to be living in DC where intellectual alchemy happens on a daily basis.

Q. What would you say is the hardest or easiest lesson that you’ve learned?

A. The hardest lesson I had to learn is that I will have to stand up for myself before anyone else will stand with me. I stood up for myself against an abusive manager. My speaking up led to four other colleagues standing up with me for similar treatment. The easiest lesson I learned is that my story had strength. The sharing of my suffering empowered others to recognize and admit the abuses in their own life and stand up for themselves.

Q. What do you love most about what you do?

A. Every day brings a new challenges and those challenges need creativity in order to find the right solution. I am process-oriented and regimented in my execution of each solution, but I love the creativity that I have to bring to the the job to properly solve the legal challenges my internal customers face. I enjoy the intersection of art and science in what I do.

Q. What did you (or do you) teach at Georgetown University?

A. I taught eDiscovery at Georgetown. The course work introduced the federal discovery rules, ESI protocol negotiation skills, drafting eDiscovery planning memo, and the technical execution of data handling.

Q. How do you manage your time? Do you have any tips or tricks?

A. Time management is a drudge for everyone and I work best on deadline like most people. But if there's one thing to conquer is email. Email is the biggest time suck. I do my best to touch an email only once.

Q. Are you an early bird or a night owl – do you have any favorite morning or night routines?

A. Early bird. I like to start the day focusing on something non work-related: listening to the news or a good podcast. It helps me orient myself in the world and stay current on current events.

Q. Who would you say your mentors are and how did you select them?

A. I have built a brain trust around me to discuss and bounce ideas off of. The brain trust is great for eDiscovery and importantly business idea brain storming. I am privileged to have trusted friends such as Jason Baron, Amy Bowser, Stephen Goldstein, and Gina Anders. I did not select my mentors. They presented themselves at the appropriate time.

Q. Name a book that inspired you and why.

A. Talking from 9 to 5. I reinforces the idea that how you present your ideas is sometimes just as important as the ideas themselves. You have to be understood to be heard and there are more effective ways to be understood: especially in a business settings.

Q. How do you handle challenging personalities or challenging projects?

A. Everyone has their baggage and challenges. Challenging personalities and projects is just part of the job. My approach is to bring to each situation the best I have to offer. I am not here to be someone's therapist, but I am here to be the best eDiscovery professional who can help improve the outcomes of a case. Focus on the work and the rest will follow.

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. Bravery means listening to yourself and doing what you know is right: not what is easy or popular or the least amount of work. Many people look to implement what's easy or comfortable. Bravery is the simple act of doing what's right. You'll know the difference when the time comes.

Q. What would you be curious to know from other women leaders?

A. Everything. I am curious and I learn from the good and bad that other people demonstrate through their actions. I want to know not just the how, but also the why of the decisions each person has made. Leaders, newcomers, people in transition: we have something to learn from everyone else.

Please check out:
Women in eDiscovery Interviews: Part 7