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The Critical Need for eDiscovery Certification

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Monday, August 31, 2009

The Critical Need for eDiscovery Certification

Having spent most of career assisting the Global 2000 to utilize leading edge information technology, I am a big proponent of industry certifications.  Therefore, I wanted to post an article titled "The Critical Need for eDiscovery Certification" by Chere Estrin that appears in the August 30th  LA Legal Careers Examiner.  Chere is leading a very important effort to define and expand certifications in the eDiscovery market.

The full text of the article is as follows:

Today's screaming for qualified e-discovery professionals has reached an unprecedented volume. Recently, Socha-Gelbman published an overview of the results of their annual survey on the Legal Technology News site.

One of the most important single observations from it is the shortage of expertise in the market-place with providers, law firms and corporations reported as "fighting each other for the few people who actually understand what is involved in handling electronic documents". That is significant because the lack of qualified professionals can only grow. Predictions of 20%- 25% growth in the field does not guarantee that a generation of skilled and knowledgable people are simply going to pop up.

Most litigation support staff learn on the job. Many are victims of degenerative on-the-job training. That is to say, the trainer received inadequate training; he/she trains another individual who receives even more inadequate training; that person trains another who now receives twice as much inadequate training as the previous inadequately trained individual and so on and so on and so on.

Most law firms and vendors do not have substantive ediscovery training programs. There's plenty of continuing ed and in-house seminars but no real comprehensive long-term courses nor exams to certify core competencies. Reputations and careers are at risk.

Further, law firms hesitate to spend money on any employee who is not slated for partnership. Firms and vendors alike may hire a person from another position i.e., litigation paralegal; computer technician or someone from outside the field, to transition into the lit. support field. Only after plenty of trial and error (possibly on your case), are they called an "expert". There is no test, certification nor standards to enter or stay in this relatively new profession.

As a result of this crying need from judges, law firms and vendors alike, a new non-profit organization, The Organization of Legal Professionals (www.theolp.org) has been formed for the purpose of providing an exacting and tough certification exam to establish core compentencies. This organization has assembled a blue ribbon Board of Governors and Advisory Council. The names of these legal icons are the best in the nation and beyond.

The benefits to law firms, legal departments and vendors alike are tremendous. Just a few include the delivery of higher level quality services; better adherence to risk management; lower malpractice rates; and assured skills and competencies in a new profession that at present, has no barriers to entry.

We need your help. We need you to join and support us. We need you to help spread the word. The lack of qualified people in the fastest growing arena of litigation is unprecedented. And now, there is a way to help manage and control the problem.

Please go to www.theolp.org and join as a member, sponsor, student member or affiliate partner. If you cannot join at this time, feel free to get on the mailing list. Or, join us on the Advisory Council for 1-2 hours per month. Become a Subject Matter Expert and be in on the ground floor of this exciting adventure in solving a major problem in the legal field today.

The enormous challenges that have already been met by lit. support stars and hard-working, dedicated and persistent individuals in this field today should not be underestimated nor dismissed. It's simply time to take a look at the future and who will be entitled to call themselves an e-discovery expert and why.

I look forward to your thoughts. Please feel free to contact me or anyone on the Board of Governors or Advisory Council directly.

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