Recently I went on record as believing that eDiscovery educational resources are so abundant it takes a strategy to make the most of them. In case that gives a misleading impression, allow me to clarify that there’s still plenty of room for more. In fact, new educational material is more must-have than nice-to-have in a technology-driven, continually developing practice area.
I’m writing today as a consumer of eDiscovery education to share two content suggestions for writers and presenters. If you’re just getting started in thought leadership, or you’re considering it but aren’t sure where to begin, then read on to the end for four practical tips.
More introductory-level eDiscovery educational resources are needed.
My first suggestion is to create educational resources for beginners. Demand far outstrips supply in eDiscovery continuing education when it comes to introductory-level material. To be clear there are good resources out there for beginners; however, much more is needed.
Many legal reference materials have a long shelf life. I’d wager the intro to contracts textbook has changed little since my law student days in the late 1990s. The opposite is true of eDiscovery resources. They become outdated quickly. Keeping them current requires frequent updates and supplementation.
The reason is obvious: technology. ESI sources and types, consumer devices, enterprise software, communications tech – you name it, it’s constantly changing. At the same time, legal tech tools are improved and updated. And new technology in its turn drives rapid development of eDiscovery law and practice.
It goes without saying that people new to eDiscovery need intro-level education. Something that makes eDiscovery different from most legal areas is that experienced practitioners also encounter situations where they need intro material. We’re all beginners together when it comes to the latest and greatest technology innovation.
Write (or present) what you know and help the eDiscovery community thrive.
The adage “write what you know” is sound advice for lawyers and legal professionals. My second suggestion is to start with familiar subject matter.
One advantage of this approach is that you don’t have to spend nearly as much time researching and preparing before putting fingers to keyboard. For busy professionals this can be the difference between creating educational content and not.
Another benefit is that it makes presenting easier for introverts. In this I speak from lived experience. When I’m asked to present on a familiar topic I’m more excited about the opportunity – and more likely to pursue it. I’m also much more natural and at ease during the presentation (stage fright is no joke!).
Lastly, and most important, you help others when you share your knowledge and hard-earned wisdom. Peer-to-peer learning is incredibly important in legal education. You can never go wrong with real-world practice insights.
Four tips for new writers and presenters.
To wrap up, here are few practical tips for getting started in thought leadership:
- Experiment to find the best format fit for your schedule and interests. Options include blog posts, articles, whitepapers, podcasts, in-person or webinar presentations and social media.
- Word count is up to you. Format options range from formal case studies to anecdotes posted on LinkedIn – and everything in between. Educational value derives from content, not length.
- Mine your work for ready-made material. There are many ways to repurpose work product as thought leadership. For example, a recap of lessons learned in handling a difficult data source or a case law update based on a research assignment.
- Practice resources are perennially popular. Think about how you can create or update checklists, forms, and templates based on your own experience.
I hope these content suggestions will help writers and presenters in eDiscovery education find their audience. We all have a lot to gain when new perspectives and voices join the conversation.