ACEDS Hardship Waiver

The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) is dedicated to creating opportunities for our members to improve their technology competence and advance their careers. All people, regardless of their personal circumstances, should have a chance to improve their skills and validate their knowledge. We understand that as a professional association in the legal industry we have a vested interest in educating and serving people with limited financial resources. Therefore, ACEDS has developed a policy to alleviate financial pressures in such cases and ensure that our members and future members are treated equitably and given every opportunity to succeed.

Anyone wishing to apply for a hardship waiver should complete the form in detail below. The submission will include details on why the candidate is deserving of a hardship waiver, and provide proof of unemployment or other financial hardship. Individuals who are unemployed will be given preference. Other persons who are eligible to apply for the hardship waiver are those who are underemployed, or who have lost work through no fault of their own. Generally, individuals earning more than $50,000 USD annually (or the market equivalent) will not be considered for a hardship waiver except in extraordinary circumstances.

Acceptable Documentation (Please redact personal information):

  • W-2
  • Paycheck
  • Tax Return
  • Unemployment Notice

Applicants seeking a hardship waiver are given an opportunity to apply for one the following:

ACEDS Membership - Join the world’s only professional association solely devoted to e-discovery training and certification. Membership includes access to exclusive educational content, our global network of local chapters, professional networking opportunities, mentoring, discounts and other benefits.

eDiscovery Executive Certificate Program (eDEx) - A self-paced, online foundational course in e-discovery essentials, including 17 modules, a lecture series, 80-question assessment exam, and a digital badge upon successful completion. Anyone may apply for the eDEx program.

Certified E-Discovery Specialist Certification (CEDS) - Our flagship training and certification program requiring a commitment to intensive self-study, work-related training, and professional experience. The CEDS certification validates knowledge and skills in e-discovery, advances careers, and gives a competitive advantage to holders of the credential and their employers.

Financial Competency for Legal Professionals - A series of six online classes consisting of lectures and exercises designed to teach financial literacy in corporate finance, financial statement and analysis, valuation and securities. A certificate and digital badge will be issued upon completion of the program. Anyone may apply for the Financial Competency for Legal Professionals Course.

Program Guidelines

  • Applications for hardship waivers will be submitted to ACEDS using the Financial Hardship Application below. Applicants will generally be notified of ACEDS' decision on the application within 30 days of submission.
  • Anyone working in (or interested in working in) the legal industry is eligible to apply. Preference will be given first to individuals who are unemployed. Absent extenuating circumstances, individuals earning more than $50,000 annually will not be considered.
  • Scholarships may vary in value depending upon individual circumstances. For courses costing over $500, those who qualify will receive at least a 50% reduction in the course fee(s).
  • Current ACEDS members who are experiencing financial hardship are eligible for a one-year membership renewal, and those preparing for the CEDS exam may request a one-year extension on their certification package to complete their preparation for, and sitting of, the CEDS certification exam.
  • CEDS certified individuals who are experiencing financial hardship are eligible to apply for a one-year CEDS recertification period. The requirement that CEDS certified members complete a recertification application attesting to their ongoing training and education in e-discovery is still required. After the year extension has passed, CEDS certified professionals will be required to recertify for the standard two-year period and submit the $495 renewal fee. Members who are CEDS certified can also request a career-focused consultation.
  • Both members and non-members who are experiencing financial hardship are eligible to apply for one of the programs listed within the application below. Active members are also eligible to apply for the ACEDS Mentorship Program (learn more here), which offers an opportunity for one-on-one coaching and advice from an e-discovery industry veteran.
  • Organizations lacking adequate financial resources who provide a unique service or product to the ACEDS community can request to become an "Affinity Partner" of ACEDS, which may result in traded products, services, and promotional opportunities that are mutually beneficial. 

Appeals -  Within 30 days of a denial, an applicant may submit an appeal with any additional explanation of circumstances. Appeals will be decided by the President of ACEDS and are final.  

Note:  Applying for the financial hardship scholarship program at ACEDS is not a guarantee that any individual will receive a hardship waiver. If an applicant has been previously approved for a hardship scholarship through ACEDS, approval for a second program is solely at the discretion of ACEDS leadership. First-time applicants will be considered first. ACEDS reserves the right in its sole discretion to change or modify the hardship program at any time.