E-Discovery/Litigation Support Certifications – Shedding Some Light

By Steven Clark posted 02-26-2014 10:48



As the E-Discovery industry continues to evolve and mature, more focus and emphasis are being placed on process, best practices, and standardization than ever before.  Accordingly, the industry has seen a dramatic increase in the number and variety of educational and professional development opportunities.  Today, practitioners can take advantage of an almost limitless range of CLE's, webinars, published content, and conferences. 

These opportunities also include the chance to pursue, achieve, and leverage industry "certifications" or other more formal academic and/or practical training curriculums.  More specifically, there are a growing number of educational institutions, professional organizations, and technology providers that are offering programs which deliver content designed to train and certify participants as having demonstrated skill or expertise on industry concepts, subject matter, or applications.

As these options have grown, so too has the active debate surrounding them.  From one extreme of skepticism, to the other of pride and advocacy, these initiatives draw out a wide range of opinions regarding their legitimacy.  Ultimately though, the debate largely seems to center around two central themes:  quality and value.

With respect to quality, some of the key questions are: 

·           Which programs contain the most comprehensive content?

·           Who is involved in designing and delivering this content?

Regarding value, the key questions include: 

·           Will the certification/training lead to additional (or new) professional opportunities?

·           Does it adequately (and reliably) reflect expertise?

·           Is it a sound and justifiable investment?

This blog series will attempt to help the ILTA audience answer some of the above - but do so in a unique way.  We will offer no opinions ourselves, but rather will present the opinions and thoughts of others - in Q&A format.  It is our hope that by providing the insights of a variety of educators, technologists, hiring managers, recruiters, and some of those who hold related certifications, we will create a forum for dialogue on the above issues and more. 

A with all things ILTA - your voice and input is crucial and we welcome it.

Please comment with your thoughts.

Steve Clark
Director of Litigation Support, Lathrop & Gage LLP

Joy Holley
Director of eDiscovery Services and Litigation Support, Bryan Cave LLP


To begin with we introduce two organizations offering industry certifications:

The Georgetown Law eDiscovery Practice Support Distance Learning Program
Response Submitted By:
Robert Alan Eisenberg, Program Chair

Tell us about the program(s).

The Georgetown Law eDiscovery Practice Support Distance Learning Program is a comprehensive on-line course of study in eDiscovery Practice Support.  The program is the first of its kind that is presented by a premier law school in the United States.  It is a Certificate Program requiring 30 credit hours of study, including, a  “flipped” classroom methodology, each course including formal on-line classroom sessions as well as on-line interactive sessions with class-mates and instructors.  The program will provide written course research and study material and contemplates opportunities for both in person educational and professional networking.

Describe your target audience.

The program contemplates a “student body” comprised of members of virtually the entire eDiscovery discipline’s demographic.   We anticipate that our “audience” will be made up of practice and litigation support professionals presently in the field (including paralegals and legal assistants), both in the law firm and corporate realms, those first seeking entry to the eDiscovery Practice Support profession,  technologists, consultants, as well as attorneys, newly minted members of the Bar, JDs and law students. We believe that due to (i) the troubled economy and the resulting stark realities of a weak job market; (ii) a new pragmatism in considering employment opportunities in the practice of law and (iii) the growing importance of technology in the practice, an increasing number of practitioners are viewing practice support as a viable alternative career path, amenable to continuing employment and personal development as well as an enhanced quality of professional life.  Moreover, we believe that among attorneys and would-be attorneys there will be a significant representation in our classes of those that are seeking the general know-how and skill set which the training will provide, together with a highly valued Certification, without desiring to enter the eDiscovery Practice Support Profession itself.

What are program goals?

E-discovery Practice Support has become an area of vital significance to both litigator and Practice Support Professional and presently constitutes a critical infrastructure for the discipline of litigation practice; it is the hard wired, worldly practical reality in which the legal reasoning and trial strategy of those in litigation practice must live within and master, especially in the federal system, where trials themselves are exceedingly rare and cases frequently turn on the outcome of a litigation’s discovery phase.   Indeed, arguably, the acquisition of a working knowledge of eDiscovery Practice Support has become vital for the well-schooled, sophisticated litigator, as well as the practice support professional. The program’s goals are to provide a comprehensive course of study for both practitioner and practice support professional in the entire field of eDiscovery Practice Support and, by extension, in eDiscovery Technology.  The training will not only significantly enhance the skills of those in the eDiscovery discipline, but, among other goals,  will (i) serve to standardize the skill set that is optimal for those in the eDiscovery arena in general and those in practice support in particular; (ii) aid law firm and client alike in the avoidance of liability and reputational damage for improperly executed eDiscovery; (iii) reduce the cost of eDiscovery, in general; (iv) relieve law firms and other organizations from the need to provide both remedial and more advanced eDiscovery training for new hires or those changing their job roles within an organization and (v) meet the exigencies of the exponential growth of data stores in the burgeoning universe of “Big Data”.  It is also a program goal to be instrumental in meeting the “clarion call” of Rule 1 of the FRCP, that is:  “…to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.”

Please provide a brief overview/outline of your curriculum/program.

The curriculum is made up of 10 courses, 30 credit hours, including the following:

Course 1.  Overview: Evolution of eDiscovery Technology, Management and Operations

Course 2.  Sources and Phases of eDiscovery Data

Course 3.  Foundational Tools and Data Processing Basics

Course 4.  Production

Course 5. Analytics and Technology-Assisted Review

Course 6.  Global Data Considerations

Course 7.  Strategic Project Planning and Management

Course 8.  Managing Vendors, Negotiating an SOW, and Budget Issues

Course 9.  In-House v. Outsourcing on a Strategic Department basis

Course 10.  Metrics and Trending

Describe your faculty and representative credentials and backgrounds.

The faculty is comprised of some of the best and brightest in the field of eDiscovery Practice Support and eDiscovery Practice, including gifted senior level eDiscovery Practice Support Management Professionals and Project Management Specialists, as well as eDiscovery attorneys and technologists.  In organizing a faculty the emphasis was not only upon gathering the most effective instructors and content providers, but to provide as lecturers those with profound practical, as well as innovative, experience in the field of eDiscovery Practice Support.

What are the associated costs?

As of this writing the cost of tuition which includes classroom instruction, interactive sessions, access to instructors and course material has not been established.

What is the end result?

Among other significant benefits noted above, the end result will be the granting of a Certificate in eDiscovery Practice Support from Georgetown University Law Center, a premier law school and the only major law school that sponsors a permanent CLE annual conference in eDiscovery, The 2-day Advanced eDiscovery Institute, which held its 10th annual conference in 2013 as well as hosting the unique eDiscovery Training Academy.  More importantly, a graduating student will be provided an education in the discipline of eDiscovery that is, for all practical purposes, sui generis.

Are there renewal or re-certification requirements?

It is contemplated that programs will be introduced that will provide renewals or updates of the eDiscovery Practice Support Certificate to be granted upon completion of all the requirements for graduation from Georgetown Law’s eDiscovery Practice Support Distance Learning Program.

Association of Certified eDiscovery Specialists (ACEDS)
Response Submitted By:
Robert Hilson, Executive Director

Tell us about the program(s).

The Certified E-Discovery Specialist (CEDS) examination is not a test of knowledge of any product, training course or software. It is the first independent e-discovery certification program, constructed by a global task force of more than 50 professional e-discovery practitioners chosen by ACEDS. The exam adheres to strict psychometric competency principles to assure that it is a legally defensible, fair, unambiguous test of knowledge and skill. A leading psychometric testing firm, Kryterion, advises ACEDS to assure testing soundness and security.

The experts who participated in the long process of constructing the examination identified and made an extensive analysis of the job tasks that are performed by the various e-discovery disciplines. That work was supplemented by the results of a global field survey that ACEDS conducted. These processes identified and helped fashion the 15 major areas on which the examination focuses. ACEDS, under the guidance of Kryterion and professional practitioners, conducts a yearly review of the examination for content, clarity, accuracy, and to assure it is in keeping with current e-discovery best practices.

Describe your target audience.

From professionals who are at the front lines entrenched in e-discovery to those that handle only one area sporadically, ACEDS provides training and certification to persons who handle electronically stored information in their work. Some of the practitioners that can benefit from CEDS certification are:

  • Corporate, law firm, and solo attorneys and their staffs
  •       Paralegals
  •       Litigation Support Professionals
  •       Information and Records Managers
  •       Technologists
  •       Judges
  •       Compliance Officers
  •       Project Managers
  •       Forensic Examiners
  •       Service Provider Personnel

 What are program goals?

To help professionals in various disciplines improve and certify their e-discovery knowledge and skill, advance their careers, grow their professional networks, and increase overall competence in e-discovery and related fields.

Please provide a brief overview/outline of your curriculum/program.

The CEDS certification exam probes 15 e-discovery fields as selected by a global taskforce of practicing e-discovery specialists and validated by an ACEDS-sponsored survey. These include:

  • Information Management and Litigation Readiness
  •       Project Planning
  •       Litigation Hold Implementation
  •       Collection Planning and Implementation
  •       Data Processing
  •       Data Culling
  •       Review Planning
  •       Document Review
  •       Data Production
  •       Project Management
  •       Legal Framework and Obligation
  •       International Discovery
  •       Ethics
  •       Technology
  •       Budgeting

Describe your faculty and representative credentials and backgrounds.

The ACEDS professional staff has years of certification, training and member association experience. The CEDS certification follows the same principles of psychometric soundness, integrity and professionalism, as promulgated by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). It was constructed by a task force of practicing e-discovery specialists, including attorneys, consultants, litigation support persons, corporate e-discovery directors, information technology practitioners and others. The ACEDS advisory board is similarly comprised, and includes a member of the Federal Rules Advisory Committee, the general counsels of a major cruise line and hospital chain, several leading e-discovery attorneys, and the director of e-discovery for a major healthcare provider.

ACEDS was recently acquired by BARBRI, Inc., which has helped more than 1 million lawyers pass the bar exam and is evolving to meets other legal education needs for a broad spectrum of professionals, including attorneys and individuals in heavily regulated fields.

ACEDS is strictly vendor-neutral and unaffiliated with any product, software, law firm, consulting firm or government agency.

What are the associated costs?

The CEDS examination fee for ACEDS members is $795, and $595 for persons in any government or military agency or academic institution. Non-members of ACEDS pay $995 to take the exam. The fee includes an extensive CEDS Exam Preparation Manual in electronic format and admission to one of 700 ACEDS-Kryterion Testing Centers worldwide. The cost of membership is $195 ($145 for government).

What is the end result?

A CEDS-certified professional, by passing the rigorous, independent examination, earns a credential that validates knowledge and skill in e-discovery through a scientifically verifiable standard. ACEDS believes that professionals who earn the CEDS credential gain significant short term and long term job and career benefits. The credential has been obtained by persons at many large, global organizations, including Dell, Sony, General Electric, Bayer, Ford and AT&T, among others, and Am Law 200 firms. Organizations also regularly express a preference for CEDS-certified persons in job ads. 

What other benefits come with the above?

By obtaining the CEDS credential, certified persons:

  • Increase their career options across industries and professions,
  •       Elevate their standing in the e-discovery field, and become more attractive to prospective employers,
  •       Increase their credibility in court,
  •       Become more valuable to their respective law firms, corporations, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, technology companies, or legal staffing firms,
  •       Increase their income potential,
  •       Validate their skills to clients, co-workers and superiors,
  •       Become more valuable to litigation support departments, and
  •       Help make the justice system more accessible, efficient, and economical.

 By certifying their employees or hiring certified persons, organizations:

  • Show clients and customers they are committed to e-discovery competence, and reducing risks and costs,
  •       Improve their credibility in court and to regulators,
  •       Increase redundancies and bridge communications and technical gaps between personnel in various departments, and,
  •       Reduce the risks and costs associated with electronically stored information.

Are there renewal or re-certification requirements?

Two years after a candidate earns the certification, a CEDS-certified professional must show evidence that he or she has earned 40 continuing education credits in the interim. ACEDS members pay $150 to re-certify. Nonmembers pay $250. Government employees pay $100.

Do you have any metrics or other information to quantify the value of the program/certification in the marketplace?

Since the exam was released in November 2010, about 1500 persons have earned or begun the process of earning the CEDS credential. Certified practitioners are in more than 15 countries. In addition, several service providers have made certification a condition of employment, and it is increasingly appearing in job ads of top organization as a preferred credential.


1 comment



04-16-2014 12:05

Great work putting this together!