The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) is a groundbreaking organization that is seeking to build the eDiscovery community through training and certification. ACEDS offers education in the form of live training seminars, access to recorded training online, and an annual conference. ACEDS is concerned about making sure certified individuals are proficient in not only one area of the EDRM, but in all. The certification covers a wide range of topics which are all important in the eDiscovery process – legal hold, collection, processing, project management and review planning, and everything surrounding them. ACEDS has partnered with organizations such as ARMA, ALSP, and ILTA. These organizations see the value in a vendor neutral certification for eDiscovery, and so do I. A lot has been written in every industry about pros and cons for certification, and eDiscovery is no exception.
Most technical and semi-technical fields have two basic types of certifications: vendor application specific and vendor neutral. I’ve seen several vendor exams for eDiscovery certifications. While those can be important for users of a specific application, they’re not always portable between organizations as there are so many different products prevalent in the market. Many of them are very specific to the functionality of the tools, and less focused on overall eDiscovery knowledge. Passing means you know how to run the application, but not that you necessarily understand the reasoning behind the actions you perform. I currently hold a vendor certification for forensics which attempts to remain balanced between general industry knowledge and tool-specific information, but the focus is definitely on the tool.
Vendor neutral certifications for eDiscovery, such as CEDS from ACEDS, don’t worry about how any specific tool tries to tackle eDiscovery. They aim to verify knowledge across multiple areas in a given discipline, without relying on how one tool functions. If you’re interested in learning more about the certification, check out the ACEDS website: What The Exam Is About. For other sources: Gabe Acevedo with Above The Law has a great analysis written just after last year’s ACEDS Conference. Dennis Kiker with LeClairRyan also wrote a well-reasoned article describing eDiscovery certification as the logical next step, and rebutting some recent criticism.
I can say from my own experience hiring forensic and eDiscovery professionals that certification is not a panacea or guarantee when choosing a candidate. What it does demonstrate, though, is that someone is interested in investing time in themselves and their chosen career field. In the case of CEDS, it shows that they care about advancing in the field of eDiscovery.
ACEDS is prepping for their annual conference at the beautiful Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, FL, April 2 – 4. The line-up is absolutely stellar. Topics include: addressing catastrophic eDiscovery events; timely items such as social media; often overlooked project management; eDiscovery malpractice risks; and of course, exam prep courses.
If you’re planning on attending the conference, enter discount code “BLACK” when you register to receive $150 off the already very reasonable conference fee. Don’t wait too long, though – the discount code expires soon!
Full disclosure: I serve on the ACEDS Advisory Board, lending my perspective on technology in eDiscovery and the intersection of eDiscovery and Forensics.