Legal technology is constantly changing, improving, growing, and increasing in importance. Now is an ideal time to reflect upon past advances and start setting goals for the future.
Recently, there have been major advancements in the importance of e-discovery. Law and paralegal students alike need to find opportunities to increase their knowledge and skill sets in this area. If you are currently enrolled in a school that offers a course in e-discovery, you are lucky and my advice is simple: take the course and, if there is a certification offered, get it.
If your school does not offer such a course, find out if they have one on legal technology, which usually introduces e-discovery. You may also want to look into an e-discovery course or certification online or at another institution. There is also an abundance of online resources available, so do some research and find out what is out there.
A good e-discovery course should provide you with an understanding of the stages in the e-discovery process, digital data, issues in e-discovery, review methods, and terminology, along with providing hands-on work with e-discovery software.
I know firsthand that my students who learn and become proficient in e-discovery technology are more marketable when they begin their job search. As part of my course, I train students to use Relativity and other e-discovery software programs. This training has proven to be very attractive to potential employers.
Don’t operate under the misconception that it is not necessary to learn e-discovery because you don’t think you’ll be involved with it. Electronic data is growing exponentially. What we are “discovering” in litigation has become increasingly more digital in nature. By the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet, according to the annual IDC Digital Universe study.
A significant change to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct in 2012 specifically recognized the need for technological competence. Through amendments to Comment 8 of Model Rule 1.1, the ABA explained what it means to provide “competent” representation: “[t]o maintain the requisite knowledge and skills, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology….” [emphasis added].
There is no question that e-discovery is growing more important and that understanding it is necessary. As you set your goals, put learning e-discovery at the top to help advance your career.