Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2015-03-01 19:00:00Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. 

One of my old clients asked my opinion on where she should spend her hard fought 2015 eDiscovery education budget while we were catching up at LTNY. A few minutes into the conversation and I realized that those talented marketing spin doctors had done a fabulous job of confusing consumers about the realities of eDiscovery certifications, standards bodies, continuing education and actual higher education courses. Since the arrival of the 2006 FRCP amendments, eDiscovery practitioners have struggled along without any governing standards body handing down practical methodologies, practices or any kind of formal educational path for neophytes to get up to speed. Most industries have non-profit ‘Standards Developing Organizations‘ that bring together diverse process participants in a transparent, formal system to publish definitions and guidelines by consensus. In my opinion, provider product marketing has funded and driven the vast majority eDiscovery education that is available today. The Sedona Conference gives attorneys 10,000 foot level principals, but never intended to teach the litigation support tech how to process email from a PST. In 2005, a bright group of folks put together the Electronic Discovery Reference Model as a visual model of the typical workflow from that time period. Although I contributed to the subsequently formed EDRM working groups for many years, I was disappointed to read the notice at the bottom of the December EDRM Update:

EDRM had been working to form a non-profit organization that could serve as a successor to the current EDRM, ensuring EDRM’s long-term sustainability. Unfortunately, those efforts have not been successful and so we have made the difficult decision to halt that initiative. Our objective remains the same and we will consider other options to address EDRM succession planning in the coming year. In the meantime, rest assured that EDRM will continue to operate as it has the past ten years, focused on its mission to create practical resources that improve e-discovery and information governance. – http://www.edrm.net/archives/25852

So is there any real eDiscovery standards organization? In my opinion. No. ACEDES and the OLP are both for profit certification companies who regularly promote provider sponsored webinars and events. ARMA and ILTA are more focused on promoting peer-to-peer networking than developing standards. Every one of these organizations have created valuable content, assessment tools and may have a real return on investment for your educational budget.

Here is a good set of process rules to look for from Wikipedia:

  • Who is allowed to vote and provide input on new or revised standards
  • What is the formal step-by-step process
  • How are bias and commercial interests handled
  • How negative votes or ballots are handled
  • What type of consensus is required

We are still a young, developing industry. It is natural for providers to channel marketing budget and expert time into any organization with an aura of authority. There is nothing sinister about that, but be an informed consumer. Look at the working group leaders and authors before you assume that educational content is unbiased. That does not mean to throw it out just because a vendor wrote it. Instead, ask yourself what they sell and how that might affect their recommendations. For instance, I consult for big companies and law firms. That means that I will never be comfortable writing about aggressive small plaintiff strategies and I do not put enough time into solo matter platforms that dominate the hosted review market. My clients are de-facto serial defense litigants, so I always try to think about upstream data sources and am looking to leverage work product value across matters.

There IS no recognized, established eDiscovery standards committee at this time. So be a cynical shopper with your educational budget. There is a new non-profit association called the Legal Technology Professionals Institute (LTPI) that has been formed by some of the early EDRM working group leaders along with an impressive list of industry veterans.  Word is that they will formally kicking off in the next month or two with a handful new standards setting projects, and I look forward to covering their development.

Greg Buckles wants your feedback, questions or project inquiries at Greg@eDJGroupInc.com. His active research topics include analytics, mobile device discovery, the discovery impact of the cloud, Microsoft’s 2013 eDiscovery Center and multi-matter discovery. Recent consulting engagements include managing preservation during enterprise migrations, legacy tape eliminations, retention enablement and many more.

Blog perspectives are personal opinions and should not be interpreted as a professional judgment. eDJ consultants are not journalists and perspectives are based on public information. Blog content is neither approved nor reviewed by any providers prior to being posted. Do you want to share your own perspective? eDJ Group is looking for practical, professional informative perspectives free of marketing fluff, hidden agendas or personal/product bias. Outside blogs will clearly indicate the author, company and any relevant affiliations. 

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