An email from the Yahoo LitSupport listserv from Paul C. Easton:
I was one of the pilot group for the Certified Electronic Discovery Specialists (CEDS) exam from the ACEDS and was just informed last week that I passed. I posted my thoughts about the experience of applying for and taking the exam on my Legal Project Management blog.
I been following the development of e-discovery and litigation support certification efforts on my blog and have also written about the debate over the value the PMP for litigation support professionals . Having a certification means that you completed a course of study on and/or passed a test covering best practices, as defined by the certifying organization. The more rigorous certifications, such as the CEDS and PMP also show that you have documented experience and education. It does not, however, provide a measure your your success.
While I understand that these certifications do not guarantee competence, I do think that they have some value…
First, having a certification shows a not-insignificant commitment to the area being certified. Even if most people get their certifications just to have something to put on their résumé, you don’t obtain and maintain a these certifications without making a significant investment in time. But given the current state of development of eâ€`discovery certifications, my feeling is that their value is still up in the air. Software certifications are still probably the most valuable when they match the technology used by the potential employer.
I think for the more savvy employers, where the hiring is done by grizzled litsupport jocks, your experience will probably speak for itself and they’ll know how to determine in an interview if you are the real deal. That said, increasingly, smaller firms and corporate legal and IT departments are increasingly staffing e-discovery positions. Often the hiring partners or HR departments are not particularly savvy and will grab onto such certifications to cull down the resumes they receive. Also, I think e-discovery in the United States is rapidly becoming more standardized and professionalized. I expect that one or more certifications will rise to prominence and become a requirement for many positions.
In the meantime, whether or not to pursue a certification depends on what you expect to get out if it. If you simply want validation and recognition of your experience and training, the ACEDS will give you that. If you are looking to increase the breadth of your eâ€`discovery knowledge, the OLP is further along in the development of curricula (disclosure: I co-taught one of the classes for the OLP’s Project Management for Litigation Support Professionals course). Any efforts you make to increase your skills and training and to document and receive recognition for your accomplishments can all help your career. But it is a stretch to expect an eâ€`discovery certification to magically open doors.