CEDS Spotlight – Keith Spadafora, CEDS

Keith Spadafora, CEDS
Senior Staff Attorney

Please share your thoughts on the certification training, how long it took you to prepare for the exam, thoughts on the exam and how it has benefitted you- both the knowledge gained from training and certification and being part of the ACEDS community as a whole. (Whole experience)

The certification addresses key aspects of eDiscovery, familiar to those working in the industry, including but not limited to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and phases of eDiscovery. I found the experience rewarding. The ACEDS team was always accessible to answer my questions regarding the process. The subject matter was thorough and covered topics one might encounter on any given day, whether it be obligations under the law or phases of discovery from preservation though production.

Why did you decide to get certified? Do you have any other certifications?

I wanted a certification in the industry agnostic of technology which reflects my work. First and foremost, I am an attorney. My practice focuses on eDiscovery.  In order to serve those with whom I work, it is essential to understand and communicate with others regarding strategies associated with preservation, collection, review and production as well as understand obligations under the law. The CEDS certification recognizes the importance in both law and technology.

Please share your background of eDiscovery experience:

When I graduated law school there was no “e” in front of the word discovery. Much of the medium by which discovery occurred was paper. When you explain paper discovery to those who never had the experience, it must seem like the equivalent of a grandparent saying they walked through ten miles of snow uphill to get to school. I found working with paper slow and   frustrating–far from gratifying or efficient. As discovery evolved to include electronic communications, I saw the value in identifying relevant materials more quickly. The more exposure I had, the more I wanted to learn. The “e” introduced lawyers to a new vocabulary and I quickly came to realize learning the language alone would not be enough. I wanted to understand potential consequences of decisions. Decisions may not only affect the quality of each phase of discovery but costs and the ability to meet deadlines as well. Every choice can potentially impact a matter. I wanted to be able to have these conversations and contribute to the success of discovery by helping determine an optimal and efficient approach for each situation. I’ve been fortunate to find myself working alongside like-minded colleagues.

Would you recommend our CEDS training/certification to other?

Yes. I believe establishing benchmarks the industry has value. Having a method by which others can demonstrate their understanding of those benchmarks, can also have value.  The CEDS certification can be one way of letting others know the recipient has knowledge of both law and technology. Obtaining a certification can be a great way of communicating the investment of time, knowledge and experience one has in the eDiscovery area.

Advice to others looking to take the exam?

Nowadays attorneys entering into practice are expected to have a certain level of proficiency with eDiscovery.  I think it is fair for non-attorneys working in eDiscovery to also have some understanding about the laws surrounding discovery. Take the sample exam to see whether this is something from which you might benefit. Maybe your experience has prepared you or maybe you find there are things you want to learn. There are virtual lectures one can attend and materials one can study. Follow the instructions on how to prepare and carve out time to do what is necessary.

Any other thoughts to share?

In law school we were told the law is alive because it is constantly evolving. Each generation of smart phones and the myriad of new ways we have to communicate can serve to demonstrate technology is constantly evolving as well. If working in an industry where the two primary elements determine an individual’s success in that job and they are constantly changing, it is wise to continue to evolve oneself. Never be satisfied with the knowledge you already have. Seek out new opportunities to grow and learn.