In most fields there are recognized, an established certification is required and deemed important for professionals. In e-Discovery however, this is slightly different. There is no equivalent such as the Ontario Bar examination in e-Discovery; There is no standardized and mandatory. In many cases, different tools require their own certifications (such as Venio with their Venio Certified Administrator Certification). This is likely a consequence of the current state of e-Discovery, where there are several different platforms that achieve the same goals but require experience specifically in their e-Discovery tool. It could also be because e-Discovery is a relatively new field.
A quick search on Google shows there are a myriad of certifications available for e-Discovery. However, there is one e-Discovery certification that is currently leading the others and having this certification will help in your career. These are the certifications available from ACEDS. The Certified E-Discovery Specialist certification requires the completion of several work hours in e-Discovery in addition to a final examination that tests your understanding in legal, IT and other e-discovery materials.
My experience working through and completing the Certified E-Discovery Specialist (CEDS) is that it is an achievable goal for anyone who has the experience in the field. According to their website, the CEDS certification is recognized and trusted globally as an indicator of e-discovery competence.
In my experience, I have found that trying to jump right in and complete the certification will provide several hurdles and make it more difficult to achieve success. While studying for the exam here are some of the strategies, I used to achieve success:
Give Yourself Enough Time to Study
Instead of waiting until the final examination, I found it was helpful to study the material in small chunks over a period (in my case, about 6 months). Then once the final examination approached, I spent more time focusing on difficult areas that I felt needed more in-depth analysis.
Know Your Weak Areas
The CEDS certification encompasses a number of different fields / specialities. So, it is best to know which fields you are weaker in. That way, you can spend more time on those. When I was preparing for this exam, I knew that my strengths were in any topics involving Information Management and Technical Data Processing. Therefore, I approached the preparation with a mindset and focus on these weaker areas.
Maximize Your Strengths
Correspondingly, do not ignore your strong areas as these areas provide an opportunity to make up some ground that may have been lost in your weaker topics. When I received my final results, I noticed that my scores in legal questions was sufficiently higher that in the other areas, this buffer was enough to help me achieve an overall passing grade. I performed well on these areas because I still took some time to refresh my understanding of them will though not as much as my weak areas.
Do Not Under Value Actual Work Experience
I found that the actual experience I had from working at NearZero Discovery really paid dividends in terms of my success on the overall certifications. It was much easier to remember steps I took at work compared to things I had studied during my preparations.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The final and most useful tip is the importance of practicing for the examination. Whether it was practice from the actual work I performed or practicing questions / exams. I found that this was a good way of getting information to stick long term.
Areas covered by ACEDS (from aceds.org/ceds-certifications)
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