A guest blog post by ACEDS advisory board member Jeff Jacobson
Before I studied for and passed the CEDS exam, I thought I “knew” e-discovery. In fairness, I’m sure I did know more about the subject that 99% of practicing lawyers, and as a “Big Law” partner I had overseen many complex e-discovery projects. What I did not have, however, was the level of technical knowledge necessary to trouble-shoot problems alongside my firm’s professional e-discovery staff.
I encouraged some of the non-lawyer e-discovery professionals with whom I worked to become CEDS certified, too. They came to the process knowing the technical details cold, but once they passed the CEDS exam, they understood much better the legal requirements driving their work. Between their coming just a little closer to my knowledge of the law, and my coming just a little closer to their knowledge of how various search tools and review platforms function, our ability to collaborate increased tremendously.
It’s not necessary to think of the CEDS certification as a “Rosetta Stone” that will let lawyers function without e-discovery professionals, or vice versa. That’s not the point. Every day, lawyers find ways to educate themselves about their clients’ businesses in order to become more valuable to their clients. Every firm has clients that will face significant e-discovery challenges. If you are a lawyer who has an affinity and an aptitude for e-discovery—and, if you’re reading this, you probably are—why wouldn’t you want to take the next step to increase your value to your firm and its clients? The same question applies to e-discovery professionals who have management aspirations and want to learn more about the law governing their field.
If, like me a few years ago, you think you know “enough,” sign up for the CEDS exam and start looking through the study materials. If you’re already truly fluent, the worst that will happen is you add a credential that demonstrates your fluency. I suspect it’s more likely, however, that the CEDS exam process will teach you at least a few things you didn’t know as well as you thought. And when that extra knowledge lets you solve a client’s problem, or avoid what would have been a costly mistake, you’ll be thankful you invested the time to learn.