E-discovery represents a unique and constantly evolving intersection of technology and law. But, the vast majority of law schools still do not provide e-discovery course material in their curricula. Therefore, many of today's e-discovery "experts" have acquired their knowledge through ad-hoc training methods such as CLE presentations, product training, seminars, and conferences - along with real-world trial and error.
This lack of formalized, cross-functional education has spurred the development of e-discovery education and certification organizations. From private companies to associations and organizations, litigation support professionals and lawyers have many options to become certified" in e-discovery. These programs offer different curricula and certification upon completion.
So if you are looking to become certified, which one is right for you and your organization? Here is a description of the most recognized offerings today, in alphabetical order:
The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS)
ACEDS, a BARBRI professional association, is a member organization for professionals in the private and public sectors who work in the field of e-discovery.
The Certified E-Discovery Specialist certification is awarded to candidates who meet education and experience eligibility criteria. Candidates who earn the CEDS credential must pass a rigorous examination of 145 multiple-choice questions. Test-takers demonstrate their skill in 15 e-discovery fields, including:
- Information Management and Litigation Readiness
- Litigation Hold Implementation
- Data Culling
- Document Review
- International Discovery
The exam is available year-round at 700 test centers worldwide.
Arkfeld eDiscovery Education Center (EDEC)
Michael R. Arkfeld, the author of Arkfeld on Electronic Discovery and Evidence, developed the eDiscovery Education Center. This course, which is conducted online, is designed to provide legal professionals with an integrated and comprehensive foundation about the technological and legal issues involved in e-discovery.
EDEC offers two certification levels, based on hours of instruction and examination scores.
eDiscovery Team Training
The e-Discovery Team Training program was designed by Ralph Losey, a partner at Jackson Lewis, for the class he teaches at the University of Florida College of Law. This free program, with its 85 modules, provides 75 to 400 hours worth of education depending on how much supplemental homework is completed.
While there is no certification per se, once you complete all 85 modules you can ask to take a 3,000-word essay exam to test your understanding of the materials. If you pass the exam, you will receive written confirmation of your passing grade.
The curriculum includes ideas and solutions from experts around the world that address the many challenges of e-discovery. It also explores common mistakes, what to avoid, legal opinions and real-world practice suggestions.
Flexible options are available for those who do not wish to complete all 85 modules.
Stay On The Cutting Edge
Experts in any field are never satisfied with the status quo and continually seek knowledge and improvement. After you study hard and earn the certification, consider that the beginning, not the end, of your educational journey. When considering which program to pursue, reach out to members and the organizations' advisory boards. Talk to those who have completed the course materials and have become certified.
Each of these organizations has demonstrated a commitment to education and providing a comprehensive standardized curriculum for legal professionals who have the desire to learn and are willing to invest time and money into their e-discovery career.