It can be challenging to keep up with the fast-changing law, practice and technology of eDiscovery. The good news is there are many high-quality educational and training resources available at low (and even no) cost. The bad news? Between packed schedules and too-frequent emergencies, continuing education can easily fall by the wayside. Here are three strategies for making the most of eDiscovery resources without breaking the time bank.
1. Commit to daily reading in small doses.
My top tip is to read regularly in small doses. Make an appointment with yourself for 15-20 minutes of reading a day, four to five days a week. Literally put it on your calendar if that’s what it takes to enforce a consistent habit.
The easiest way to create a reading plan is to subscribe to 10-15 quality publications. I recommend a mix of legal news sites, professional organization newsletters and legal blogs. There are many good blogs to choose from. Three that I follow are eDiscovery Today (case law and eDiscovery industry updates), Ride the Lightning (cybersecurity news) and Artificial Lawyer (legal technology news and analysis).
Following good productivity practices will keep your inbox from exploding from your new subscriptions. Customize subscription settings to daily or weekly updates. Create Outlook Rules to send emails directly into a “news” folder.
Keep in mind you don’t need to read everything. Scan the headlines for an overview and click on just the links that look particularly interesting or pertinent to your practice.
2. Regularly attend presentations (and conferences if possible).
Build on the foundation of daily reading by regularly attending live or webinar presentations. A good baseline is somewhere between quarterly and monthly. Over the course of a year you’ll have covered multiple topics, but without risking presentation burnout. You can always adjust the pace up or down according to your schedule and interests.
If conferences are an option, try to attend one or two a year, preferably in person. Conferences combine formal and informal education through a mix of presentations, vendor halls and networking events.
Do you belong to any professional organizations? Presentations by community-based organizations like city bar associations and local chapters of national groups like Women in eDiscovery, ACEDS and ILTA double as prime networking opportunities. If you have an annual CLE requirement, then you can earn your credits, learn something useful and foster connections all at the same time.
3. For software training focus on type and timing.
The conundrum of software training is that we need it, yet often don’t get much out of it. Ineffective training is a complex problem, but there are steps we can take to improve our individual experience. One of them is to focus on training type and timing.
First, seek out experiential training like workshops and virtual training environments. Hands-on learning is much more effective than passive learning, especially for new users. As an addendum, plan for follow-up questions by finding out about knowledge base and support options and how to access them.
Second, include training in project planning so you can schedule it near in time to the project start date. This turns the project itself into an opportunity to learn by doing. Near in time training also promotes engagement. Immediate need is the best motivation to pay attention during training and resist being interrupted by work and digital distractions.
Continuing legal and technology education is a must in eDiscovery. Fortunately, educational and training resources are readily available. Practitioners can make the most of these resources with some simple planning and consistent application.