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How to Become an E-Discovery Professional

If you are interested in law and information technology, combining the two into a career as an E-discovery professional could be the right career opportunity for you. 

E-discovery professionals use a range of technology in the legal discovery process involving electronic documents. Legal discovery is when one party in a court case is allowed to discover information the other party has. E-discovery professionals organize, maintain, assess, and manage electronic records that are shared between parties in a legal proceeding. 

E-Discovery professionals also help create policies to preserve electronic information. They must comply with federal rules regarding the storage of electronic data. Excellent computer skills, as well as solid communication skills, are a requirement as they work closely with lawyers, IT personnel, and records management personnel. They also might educate clients on e-discovery policies and write procedures on electronic document handling. Becoming an E-discovery professional makes you an essential piece of the legal process. 

Sample job description

E-Discovery professionals use technology in the legal discovery process between a plaintiff and a defendant involving electronic documents. They review and manage the electronic records involved in the discovery process. E-Discovery professionals must be tech-savvy and must be well-versed in legal knowledge. Although being a lawyer isn’t a requirement, it is extremely beneficial. [Your Company Name] is searching for an experienced E-Discovery professional to take our business to new levels. As an ideal candidate, you have experience using technology to facilitate discovery, drafting and communicating litigation hold procedures, gathering and analyzing electronic information, and ensuring compliance with rules and regulations regarding the production of information. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Assess a client’s electronically stored information (ESI) 
  • Create policies for preserving ESI
  • Serve on E-Discovery teams
  • Ensure compliance with federal ESI rules
  • Educate clients on E-Discovery policies
  • Use technology to facilitate discovery
  • Assist in the collection, processing, review, analysis, and production of ESI

Education and experience

The E-Discovery occupation is attracting people with backgrounds as paralegals as well as people with experience in the IT field. IT professionals in the E-Discovery field are usually required to have a bachelor’s degree in information science, computer science, or a related field. Paralegals are required to have an associate degree.

Some firms require E-Discovery professionals to have certification, such as the one offered by the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS).

Required skills and qualifications

  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Knowledge of federal regulations regarding ESI
  • Analytical thinking
  • Organization and time management skills
  • Knowledge of ethical and legal guidelines governing the discovery process

Preferred qualifications

  • J.D. degree 
  • 3+ years working in technology and legal
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Excellent legal knowledge

Typical work environment

E-Discovery professionals tend to work in offices where they take advantage of technologies to perform their work. With the shift in the workplace toward remote work, many E-Discovery professionals work from home. E-Discovery professionals normally work weekdays from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM but may work over a 40-hour week, especially when preparing for trials or nearing deadlines. E-Discovery professionals typically work for law firms, E-Discovery vendors, the government, or in academic settings.

Typical hours

The typical work hours in an office setting for an E-Discovery professional are usually from 9 AM to 5 PM. However, many work more than 40 hours a week, especially when preparing for trials or nearing deadlines.

Available certifications

Many institutions offer certifications to help E-Discovery professionals improve their skills and knowledge. Here are some of the top certifications for E-Discovery professionals: 

  • Certified E-Discovery Specialist (CEDS). The CEDS is offered by the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists and is designed to help legal professionals build the skills and knowledge needed to work in the e-discovery spectrum. The multiple-choice exam covers a host of topics, including project planning, information management and litigation readiness, collection planning and implementation, and data culling. 
  • Culler Certification. Logikcull offers 3 levels of certifications: Culler, Pro Culler, and Master Culler. To become certified at each level, you must complete the lessons, pass an exam, and complete practical exercises. The Culler credential demonstrates your mastery of e-discovery basics. The Pro Culler certification shows that you can use Logikcull’s technology to create different uploads, customize reviews, filter documents, and create custom product specifications. To earn the Master Culler certification, you must demonstrate your ability to implement quality controls, create complex search strings, and improve your organization’s discovery processes.

Career path

E-Discovery professionals come to this relatively new field from different career paths. Some are paralegals with associate degrees or paralegal certificates. The occupation also attracts IT professionals with bachelor’s degrees in information science, computer science, or a related field. An increasing number of attorneys are also entering the E-Discovery field.

Coursework in data management and legal studies can make candidates more attractive to law firms and E-Discovery vendors. Also, professional certification, such as the one offered by the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS), can make an E-Discovery professional candidate stand out.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 23-2011

2020 Employment345,600
Projected Employment in 2030387,000
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 12% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift41,400 increase

E-Discovery is rapidly evolving. According to the industry website Law.com, one trend E-Discovery professionals should be aware of is the increase in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in data management. Many AI tools are becoming more powerful, making it more complicated for people to access their data, have it corrected, or have it erased. Another trend industry thought leaders say could be problematic in the E-Discovery field is the growing sophistication of things like deep fake videos and fabricated evidence. They expect the use of blockchain and defensive AI to become more prevalent in prosecuting cases.