Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2010-03-24 09:00:13  I was recently asked what training and certifications could help an attorney looking to break into  contract work on eDiscovery projects. This is an attorney that has practiced for 20 years , but she still felt the need to put some technical alphabet soup behind her JD. The questions mostly focused on which software package experience and what level of training would demonstrate overall competence. What it takes to ‘break in’ as an independent is a good topic for a full article, but I will start with my perspectives on software, training and certifications as they exist today. Although contract attorneys are primarily used as reviewers, I am going to assume that an experienced attorney or other professional wants to take a case or project management role for a corporate or law firm client.  This role has traditionally been filled by the service provider, but with corporations insourcing discovery and firms taking more fixed fee engagements, I can definitely see a potential niche market for someone with the right skills.The main problem is that our industry has grown organically and most of us had to learn on the job. Several recent articles/blogs have called out the need for standards, training and certifications. I question our ability to define rigid standards or best practices given the rapid evolution of technology and case law, but I do think that you can teach fundamental eDiscovery principals and usage of core software platforms that would equip a practitioner to ‘do no harm’ in the discovery process. So where can someone get training and what kinds of technology do they need to be familiar with?Forensic examiners created the first discovery related certifications in the early 1990’s to reduce the time and issues around court acceptance of evidence and expertise. Although a certificate as a forensic examiner is not a prerequisite for managing civil discovery, understanding the fundamentals of what lies underneath of your operating system and what can be altered by contact or collection is important in cases that suddenly ‘go criminal’ or where there are allegations of potential fraud/spoliation. The primary forensic imaging software packages are Guidance EnCase and AccessData FTK.

Forensic Certifications:

ISFCE – Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) – $395Guidance – EnCase® Certified eDiscovery Practitioner (EnCEP™) $150EnCase® Certified Examiner (EnCE®) – $1000EnCase Computer Forensics I – online training – $1895Access Data – FTK – AccessData Certified Examiner™ – FREEWith all the excitement around the 2006 FRCP amendments, several vendors started offering overall eDiscovery courses with their own certifications. Although these courses are neither technology independent nor truly academic, their reputations are good and I have only heard good reports from those who have attended the courses. The obvious gap in the industry has motivated three different bodies to create more standardized course materials and move towards offering their own certifications. Georgetown law school offers a yearly set of CLE clinics and has recruited well known speakers from the industry. Chere Estrin’s Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP) is currently piloting their certification tests for no cost with plans to start real testing in June. The Association of Litigation Support Professionals has been working to recruit contributors and create course materials for a while now, so they are worth keeping  an eye on. A practitioner will need to invest $1000-2000 plus time and travel, but all of these programs should give a broad perspective on the discovery lifecycle and will give you some kind of alphabet soup to add to your CV for prospective clients. They at least demonstrate that you have invested time and effort to get comprehensive coverage of eDiscovery beyond your prior practice.

Overall eDiscovery Certifications:

Kroll Ontrack’s E-Discovery Certification Course – $995 – 2 day courseLitWorks™ Certified Litigation Support Professional (CLSP) – $2100 – 4 days DTI/Erika SantiagoGeorgetown Law CLE – Advanced E-Discovery Institute 2010 $1195 Nov. 18-20Organization of Legal Professionals – pilot program for non-attorney certification until JuneAssociation of Litigation Support Professionals – Certification courses and materials under developmentWhen decided to step back out as an independent consultant, I worried that my time with Symantec and Attenex had left me out of touch with the new crop of applications. I quickly found out that a deep understanding of one specific platform gave me the fundamental tools to quickly pick up the differences in any competitive product. No one can know every application on the market, especially considering how difficult most providers make it to get access to demo copies and documentation. I keep hoping that provider paranoia around specs, documentation and pricing will fade as the eDiscovery market matures, but I see no light on the horizon as yet. With this in mind, my best recommendation is to pick dominant platforms that exemplify a particular part of the discovery lifecycle and try to get as much training or exposure as possible.


  • Collection systems are just making it in-house and unless you are going for EnCase or FTK certification I would suggest doing some reading on Enterprise Search on the EDRM Search Guide or the published Sedona WG1 commentaries.
  • Many corporations and firms have bought processing applications/appliances to deal with the small-medium sized collections. LAW 5.0 has become the defacto standard, although Clearwell, Nuix and many other players are making inroads in their market share. You want to actually process ESI and remediate exception files on one of these systems so that you appreciate what it takes to really push GBs into a reviewable state. Most service providers hide all the ‘sausage making’ steps, but the only way that you can really make recommendations and quality check processing is to have done it yourself.
    • LAW PreDiscovery – 2 day $950
    • IPRO Certified eCapture™ (ICECA) program – 2 day $900
    • For a project manager, the review platform is going to be where you spend most of your time and is the largest single cost/risk stage in the lifecycle. If you have not done review and managed batch assignment and quality control, I would recommend taking the courses and doing your time on a review before trying to jump into the fire. As I have recently found out, most of the new review platforms are web/appliance based and difficult to get material on without an active sale or project. CT Summation and Concordance are the old timers in the market and everyone will be familiar with them. They are still relevant to the basic processes of setting up, administrating and managing a review. I added the IPRO training page because their wide product line would give you coverage across all the phases.
      • Concordance Certified Professional – 2 day $1250
      • CT Summation – Summation Certified Trainer (SCT) 3 days – $3000
      • IPRO – variety of courses/certifications – Administrator – 3 days $900
      • The processing packages generally include the production conversion features and are slowly losing distinction as a separate piece of software. However, you should make sure that you understand the format options and how to properly document productions.
      • Presentation software has been dominated by inData’s Trial Director, although Visionary Pro has recently been getting some good buzz (as well as disappointment when they started charging for it.) Trial Director’s training seems to be focused for groups of users at a firm or corporation. It is also pretty pricey in comparison to the others. I would put this last in priority, but if you are going to take a case to trial, you really want to be solid on the presentation software or bring in a specialist.

This article dragged me down many rat holes, but I was glad of the excuse to pull together a solid list of resources for someone looking for training or certifications before making the leap. That is definitely the right order to do it in. I have been pleasantly surprised to discover that underneath the covers almost all applications built for a specific purpose share common structure, strengths and weaknesses. But I went back into the market having used the foundation platforms from their DOS days, which gave me a decided edge. For someone trying to break in and establish themselves as a legal technology professional, attorney or not, I highly recommend an investment in an overall eDiscovery course and at least one of the review platforms before sitting across the table from a prospective client.

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