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Let's Get Certified: The Importance of Professional Certifications and a Helpful Guide to Approaching Them

By Ryan Gerlach posted 06-27-2022 11:17


Please enjoy this blog post co-authored by Ryan Gerlach, Legal Analyst, State of California Office of the Attorney General - DOJ and Andrea Shirey, IT Consultant, Bayer Corporation Legal Department.

In the world of Legal Technology, there are not always clear cut paths to take in terms of professional education. But as technology updates and changes, it is more and more important to be able to stay up to date with these updates and the policies surrounding them. While certification exams cost some additional money, they are well worth the investment in your own skillset that can be taken with you no matter which direction you follow your career in. They also act as a good way to fill out your resume and show your employer and any future employers definitive proof of your skillet and the assets you bring to their workplace. So where should a Legal Technology professional begin?

One of the most useful programs in our line of work is often one that gets overlooked, Microsoft Excel. The ability to aggregate and sort massive amounts of data will save a legal technology professional hours or sorting, combining, and explaining data to a client. But aside from the occasional Udemy course or quick refresher on YouTube, how would one go about looking for additional education, especially in more advanced techniques? Well thankfully Microsoft themselves offer Specialist certification exams for various versions of the Microsoft Office Suite to match what your company or organization uses. (X) They also provide free online training resources to help prepare for certification exams and paid instructor led courses for those who are willing to pay for the additional resources. For excel the starting certification exams would be Microsoft Office Specialist: Microsoft Excel 2013, 2016 or Excel Associate (Excel and Excel 2019). (X) There are also additional Expert and Master level certifications for these versions and the program overall for those to show their total knowledge and proficiency with Excel. Additional resources provided by Microsoft include Microsoft Learn (X), a program that includes free virtual training days and customizable learning path to track your progress and development.

Another program that is commonly in use in the legal technology field is Relativity. Relativity has become a standard for document management and review platforms by providing customizable SQL databases to help manage the large number of electronic documents that are often caught up in long term litigation and investigations. Thankfully Relativity has an easy-to-understand tier system to their certification exams so you can find a good place to start amongst their beginner level exams such as RelativityOne Certified Pro, RelativityOne Review Pro, and RelativityOne Certified Sales Pro. (X) There are additional skilled and advanced certifications with those who attain them being named Relativity Experts or Relativity Masters. Once someone has registered for one of these certification exams, Relativity will provide an overabundance of training materials with the full range of possible questions that will appear on the exam. Studying and researching them all will leave an examinee with a good knowledge base going into the exam on the topic being covered. Relativity also offers a helpful certification guide online for those who wish to research further. (X) For some more casual education, Relativity also hosts virtual User Group meetings where Relativity employees will host a call to go over a topic related to the program, usually with a demonstration and also offers a good networking opportunity for the participants. (X)

Finally, Tableau and Microsoft Power BI are business intelligence programs that help collect and analyze business data and visualize that information in a way that makes it easier to draw conclusions from it. Microsoft Power BI is, as the name implies, is another Microsoft product whereas Tableau is currently owned by Salesforce. Power BI resources are available from the Microsoft Learn (X) platform including an introduction to Power BI and additional advanced certifications. (X) Salesforce offers training and certification paths through their Trailhead career development program. (X) Through Trailhead you can find learning and credential opportunities for Salesforce products as well as Salesforce Administrator competency certification. From Trailhead you can select one of the several Tableau certification exams to schedule such as Tableau Desktop Specialist, Tableau Certified Data Analyst, and Tableau Server Certified Associate. Each of the sign-up pages for these exams also provide prep guides and Salesforce also offers Tableau Certification Exam Readiness courses to help you prepare for the certification exam of your choice. (X)

While these are just some of the programs you may encounter in your career, always keep a lookout for additional training opportunities and resources. For programs that were not covered here, you can check the website of the owner or platform for any resources or information about certification or ongoing education related to that platform. You should also check with your company or organization to see if they provide any financial assistance or accommodation in in pursuing certifications or continuing education.