Celia Guo joined the Expert Institute nearly four years ago as one of the first Los Angeles-based Research Analysts. Since then, Celia, along with the whole Research team, has seen explosive growth. In her tenure, Celia’s risen through the ranks to now lead the team as the Director of Multidisciplinary Research.
So, how did she get here? Celia’s inclination towards the legal industry began when she was working in nonprofit public policy. Her role focused on the long legislative process of pushing criminal justice reform through the California State Senate. When considering her next career move, Celia knew she wanted to still impact positive social change from a legal perspective. But the two most obvious tracks didn’t feel like good fits. “When you’re interested in the legal field, there’s really just the option of law school or working at a law firm,” she explains.
Luckily, her search coincided with Expert Institute’s Los Angeles expansion. Celia says the company’s “forward-thinking approach within the legal space,” firmly sealed the deal on her decision to join and rest is history. We recently caught up with Celia to hear more about her professional growth with the company and what prospective Research Analyst hires should know about the role.
What initially interested you about the Research Analyst position?
I knew I wanted to work in a field related to the legal industry without necessarily going to law school right off the bat. I was looking for a company that was putting technology first but still in the legal world.
The thing that really stood out about Expert Institute was the enthusiasm for building out the Los Angeles Research team. I could tell immediately there were long-term growth opportunities here. When I was interviewing with the company, it was obvious that this team was really dialed in and looking to see how to make this service better. Seeing that level of investment across the board was really the thing that sold me and I knew I wanted to join the team.
What is a typical day like for a Research Analyst?
A typical day for Research Analysts really focuses on their current expert search assignments. A research analyst spends a portion of their day sourcing experts based on the parameters given by the client. The other subset of the day is facilitating conference calls between attorney clients and prospective experts. So the role is part-researcher and part-matchmaker for experts and attorneys.
How would you describe the dynamic of the Research team?
The dynamic is really exciting. There are always new projects coming through the door so no two days are ever the same. As a result, the Research team is extremely skilled at balancing projects with competing deadlines and priorities. This is especially important when there are other departments involved in the expert searches to make sure that the client has a good experience.
I think what makes working on this team so fulfilling is that not only do you build a skillset to have the confidence in managing multiple projects, it also feels very doable. Plus you’re speaking at a high level with subject matter experts and attorneys on a daily basis. And then at the same time, the day passes by really quickly. So it’s challenging, fast-paced work, but very rewarding.
You’ve had incredible professional growth at Expert Institute—from Analyst to Director. Can you walk me through the development track for a new Analyst?
From Analyst, you would move into either a Senior Analyst or Research Associate role, depending on the needs of the team. Senior Analysts tend to work on more complex cases with rushed deadlines. Associates will also take those more difficult cases as well as some responsibilities of a Research Manager. These tasks include performing intakes with clients and approving the work product to be sent out by team members. From here, you could move into a Manager role and oversee operations for a team of Analysts.
What has been your most memorable project?
For me, coming from a criminal justice background, it’s been incredibly gratifying to work on some prominent police shooting cases and really study prison policy, mass incarceration, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Helping source an expert on behalf of the plaintiff and then seeing that expert present at a press conference has probably been one of the most fulfilling projects in my life.
Another project that stands out is a case involving SAG-AFTRA. There were all these backup dancers and singers on tracks who never got credit for their performances. Basically, they weren’t receiving royalties owed to them. I was working with the attorneys leading a class action lawsuit on behalf of the performers and sourcing experts across entertainment specialties. It was really exciting to have a hand in securing labor equality. I also find it really empowering for Analysts to have this hands-on experience with major litigation. And for me, some of our biggest, most high-profile cases have been the most memorable thing in my time here.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since being on the Research team?
The most important skill I’ve learned is strategic problem solving and managing multiple project deadlines. I’ve definitely learned how to take things one step at a time. I think this is really empowering in situations when you’re not sure how to proceed. And things can sometimes feel overwhelming. But I think having the skill set to methodically work through these situations is helpful especially in a professional setting.
Tell me about the guidance you’ve received from company leadership?
On the Research team, the best guidance I’ve received has been through on-the-job collaboration and learning from my peers. There’s a lot of encouragement to learn through your work. But not in a micromanagement way, rather, you’re given the opportunity to learn by doing. Plus, you’re learning with this incredible team around you, available to answer your questions.
What would you tell someone who is interested in joining the Research team?
First, I would say go for it! Our Research analyst role is a really unique one. Even at entry level, you’re given real responsibilities that will directly impact the business. I can honestly say it will be one of the most fulfilling experiences of your early professional career.
Another great aspect of this role is the autonomy in your work. An assignment could be, “Hey, here’s this project. This is kind of what we’re looking for. Feel free to be creative with how you want to approach it.” You’ll thrive off of the challenge and want to see how fast and how well you can perform in the future. I’d also tell people to go for it because it’ll be a rewarding experience and what you get out of it is equivalent to what you put in.
Is a legal background necessary for success in the Analyst role?
Not at all! This position, though it’s in the legal industry, really just requires the eagerness to learn. The legal terminology we use can always be taught. I think anybody has the skillset. It’s just about the willingness to put in the work and to find genuine joy in talking to people who are leaders in their field.