This post is part of our on-going Women in Technology blog series.
Julia Helmer is a Director in the Discovery Solutions group, which is a consulting arm of client services. In this role, her team focuses on helping clients solve complex issues and continuous improvement. She had been with Advanced Discovery for four years, which was then acquired by Consilio in 2018. However, Julia has been in the industry itself for 10 years. Julia’s certifications include Relativity: Administrator, Analytics, and Assisted Review as well as a JD earned from the Chicago-Kent School of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She also belongs to Women in eDiscovery organization.
How did you enter this industry?
I graduated from law school in 2009, which, as you know, was an abysmal time to enter the workforce. As a baby lawyer, I was very gung-ho about my work. However, there were few opportunities, and many firms were crumbling. I finally contacted a staffing agency, and they asked me if I wanted to be a contract attorney. With so few options on the market, I was wary about the job, but I ended up accepting the position. Fortunately, the contract attorney role helped me understand what eDiscovery was about from the lawyer side (and also helped pay the bills!). After this gig, I searched for jobs in the field less focused on legal and more on technology. For my taste, it has proven to be a perfect marriage of the disciplines, and I have worked my way up from there.
What was a pivotal moment in your career?
The trifecta of experiences I gained by working with several departments within the industry. I initially started with a vendor, which gave me a strong foundation for understanding how service providers operate. Next, I transitioned to a law firm to learn the ins and outs of eDiscovery. After this, I tried my hand with corporate and finally ended up back at another vendor. My time with each of these entities has allowed me to gain an in-depth understanding of what’s most important to each. With this unique insight, I can provide the best service and experience to my clients.
How has gender impacted your career?
The only obstacle I have faced as a woman in a male-dominated workplace is any perceived judgment based on experience or ability. To battle this concern, I choose to present myself with confidence and let my expertise do the talking. There’s no point in dwelling on the opinions of others. Talking over people to compete to be the biggest in the room is pointless. After all, I am only five feet tall!
What is your advice for women in the industry?
Politeness and timidness are some typical characteristics associated with femininity. This deferent behavior comes across as respectful, however, make sure that your voice is being heard. Speaking up and asking questions are ways to show leadership skills.
How do you keep yourself level-headed in an inherently chaotic industry?
When I was younger, I would allow inflammatory emails to upset me. Often, I would rush through the reply process, fire back a charged response, and not care who felt my wrath. Since then, I’ve learned to choose my battles. Now, if I receive an email with the potential to upset me, I take a break and wait 10 to 15 minutes to reply or take a walk. When I come back to my computer, my mind is clear, I can solve the problem, and no gasoline is thrown on the fire.