Maura Grossman on Predictive Coding, Cowboy Boots and Fruit Loops

She started as a calligrapher, then became a psychologist, and now as a lawyer is an e-discovery leader.

, Law Technology News

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Maura Grossman
Maura Grossman

STEM Cells: There's a shortage of women in science, technology, engineering and math. And there's still a ridiculous 17 percent 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

MAURA GROSSMAN 

Home base: New York

Current job: Of counsel, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

First job: Before college, I worked as a calligrapher doing diplomas and invitations. To this day, people still comment on my handwriting. After college and before law school, I worked as a clinical psychologist and hospital administrator. In my last job before law school, I oversaw 12 mental health clinics in the South Bronx, taught psychology at the graduate level, and had a small private practice. (Yes, I can analyze your dreams.)

Education: A.B., Brown University; M.A. and Ph.D., The Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, Adelphi University; Postdoctoral Certificate in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, New York University; J.D., Georgetown University Law Center.

First seat at the table: As a Ph.D. intern at a teaching hospital, I was instructed to park in the staff lot and to take the staff elevator. Every morning, I nearly ran over the parking attendant driving my Oldsmobile Cutlass into the M.D. parking lot, and then I rode up in the M.D. elevator without a white coat. Sometimes you have to take your seat at the table when it isn’t offered to you.

Secret to your success: A good deal of drive, intense focus, and trying hard to be a person of my word.

First obstacle and how you overcame it: Likely my height; it’s hard being perceived as a little girl. I became the tallest person under 5 feet you will ever meet.

Most recent accomplishment: Convincing the legal world to embrace technology-assisted review; combining empirical research with the practice of law.

Biggest challenge: Convincing the legal world to embrace technology-assisted review; “not invented here”; and individual egos.

Five favorite technologies: 1)  a black Flair pen, 2)  a hardback 8½ x 11-inch perforated Ampad legal pad, 3) my Day-Timer calendar, 4) my BlackBerry with keyboard, and 5) technology-assisted review!

Who was your most important mentor, and why?: Meyer Koplow, the executive partner at my firm. In 2006, he told me that e-discovery was going to be a big deal and he thought I’d be good at it. He has always been very generous with his encouragement and great at explaining what drives people and institutions. Other role models include U.S. District Court judges Shira Scheindlin and Lee Rosenthal, and Ariana Tadler, a partner at Milberg, for their strength of character, class and grace.

Advice for the next generation: Do something you love and feel passionate about.  Don’t be afraid to change horses in midstream. 

Dress codes?: If I had my druthers, I’d live in jeans. Consider making the move from black to color. I once heard Amy Schulman, former general counsel at Pfizer, say to a group of women associates that black makes you disappear and color shows confidence. Everyone should own at least one pair of cowboy boots; I own three.

At the podium: Moderating 12 of the most extraordinary federal judges at the 2013 Georgetown University Law Center Advanced E-Discovery Institute Judicial Roundtable.

Favorite extracurricular activity: Teaching e-discovery at Columbia Law School. It’s fun to give students a usable skill set and it’s gratifying to hear when they succeed.

On the masthead: Cochairwoman of the E-Discovery Working Group advising the New York State Unified Court System; member of the Steering Committee of the Sedona Conference Working Group 1 on Electronic Document Retention and Production; member of the advisory boards of the Georgetown University Law Center Advanced E-Discovery Institute and Bloomberg BNA’s Digital Discovery and E-Evidence.

Balancing tips: I don’t do balance; ask my significant other.

How do you recharge your batteries?: Keeping a journal and taking long road trips with no plans or reservations; just a car, a map, and someone I love.

Your mantra: Be a Fruit Loop in a world full of Cheerios. (But also understand that not everyone likes Fruit Loops.)

Favorite quote: “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” —Elbert Hubbard.

Compiled by Monica Bay, editor-in-chief of Law Technology News. Twitter:@ LTNMonicaBay, @lawtechnews.

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