STEM Cells: Dera Nevin

Secret to success: adaptability, with a side of asking lots of questions.

, Law Technology News

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technology background design
technology background design

There's a shortage of women in science, technology, engineering and math. And there's still a ridiculous 17% gender gap in pay, across the board, in all of legal. So let's take a look at our own legal technology women leaders and learn what makes them tick so we can change the world. — Monica Bay.

DERA NEVIN

Home base: Toronto

Current Job: Managing Counsel, e-Discovery, TD Bank Group.

First job: Newspaper delivery, Toronto Star (about age 9).

Education: Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, B.A. (Honors) (1995); M.A. (1996). University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, J.D. (2001).

Bar Ticket: Province of Ontario (by The Law Society of Upper Canada).

First seat at the table: Co-editor, high-school (The University of Toronto Schools) newspaper, The Cuspidor. We took bold steps towards computer-assisted design, quite new at the time. I usually thrive in unofficial, ad-hoc or catalyst roles (i.e., things that don’t always involve a table).

Secret to your success: Adaptability, with a side of asking lots of questions.

First obstacle and how you overcame it: Isolatingly low self-esteem and shyness as a child, compounded by family turmoil. Time and maturity.

Most recent accomplishment: Working with the Electronic Discovery Reference Model Metrics Committee for the past year, including on revitalizing the Metrics Model, publishing the Metrics Glossary and, more recently, making available “calculators” to assist in developing e-discovery budgets.

Biggest challenge: Saying “no” to worthy, but distracting, opportunities—which just means deciding what I really want.

Most flagrant sexism you personally encountered: Being told that e-discovery is “women’s work” and therefore warranted a 33 percent pay differential—by a group of men.

Five favorite technologies: 1) The Internet (i.e., my computer, router and modem), 2) e-Books, 3) my old but reliable coffee press, 4) the Fitbit activity tracker, and 5) drip irrigation tape. I expect my Roku will make the list once I play more with it.

Managing up: Understand the objectives, make your boss look good and—if helpful—under-promise and over-deliver. If your manager is weak, or your ideas are bold, it becomes more necessary to manage up effectively.

Who were your most important mentors, and why: Robert Brush, one of my articling mentors (law intern training in Canada) for teaching me how to get my hands into law projects and how to ask for help when necessary (now with Crawley MacKewn Busch). Scott Baker, my high school English teacher, for teaching me patience and compassion (retired from the University of Toronto Schools). Kathy Conway, my friend, for teaching me how to embed humour into every tough situation (now talent development advisor at McCarthy Tetrault.)

How can mentors improve: Be direct. Explain the difference between mentors and sponsors.

What annoys mentors: Whining.

Advice for the next generation: It doesn’t come all at once, nor should it. You will become how you spend your time.

Dress codes? I have always wondered why women can’t get away with jeans and a black turtleneck. I have a basic wardrobe of flexible, interchangeable items mostly of black, grey or white non-wrinkle fabrics.

What's your worst experience of overt sexism? As a law student, I was at a recruiting event for the firm I was working for and, as I was speaking to the managing partner, a different partner grabbed my breasts from behind and lifted me off the ground.

At the podium: “TAR 201: Determining when Technology-Assisted Review Is or Isn’t the Right Solution” at the Georgetown Law 10th Annual Advanced eDiscovery Institute.

On the masthead: Co-Chair, Metrics Group; Advisory Board, EDRM; Co-chair, E-Discovery Subcommittee, Civil Litigation section, Ontario Bar Association; Co-chair, Litigation Support and Technology Subcommittee, Ontario E-Discovery Implementation Subcommittee.

Pull out the checkbook/Paypal: Amnesty International, Nazareth House (Toronto), Achilles Track Club.

Balancing tips: Keep learning. Take regular exercise and eat well. Understand what is a sacrifice and what is a compromise for you, and structure your obligations accordingly.

How do you recharge your batteries: Running.

Book that changed your life: "The Alexandria Quartet," by Lawrence Durrell

Your mantra: Courage. Faith. Grace.

Favorite quote: “To do anything requires energy. To specify what is done requires information.” — Seth Lloyd

Compiled by Monica Bay, editor-in-chief of Law Technology News. Email: mbay@alm.com. LTN Twitter: @lawtechnews

 

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