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Which seminar is right for you?
With the spread of technology, the discovery of electronic documents and data has become common in both civil and criminal litigation. As the volume of electronic documents multiplies, courts increasingly require counsel to actively engage in the preservation, collection and production of their clients’ data. In turn, attorneys look to paralegals to help them meet these obligations and get a better handle on the e-discovery process.
Proposed changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are likely to become law by Dec. 1, 2006 (see “E-discovery Explosion,” July/August 2006 LAT). The rule changes include provisions that address searching and exchanging electronically stored information during discovery. Thus, there is increasing pressure on legal teams and the corporations they represent to quickly get up to speed on e-discovery. As paralegals enter the workforce, it’s clear that those with e-discovery backgrounds will have a competitive edge in their job search.
The E-discovery Edge
Until recently, neither four-year degree programs nor certification programs have incorporated e-discovery into the traditional paralegal curriculum. However, things are changing. According to a representative from the American Association for Paralegal Education, traditional courses no longer can be taught without incorporating a technology angle. As a result, AAfPE is working on a proposed revised curriculum to help educators learn about technological subjects such as e-discovery and how to teach on these topics. The goal of this new curriculum is to integrate technology into all aspects of a paralegal program, underscoring the reality that technology permeates every aspect of the legal profession. However, transforming any formal education program takes time.
In the meantime, paralegal students can look beyond traditional classroom offerings to gain a strategic edge in the job market. From educational conferences to vendor training courses and professional association chapter meetings, there is no shortage of opportunities to learn about e-discovery. Unfortunately, knowing which program to choose can be a bit daunting. With a little effort and planning, you can take advantage of the wide range of e-discovery programs available and select one that suits your individual learning style and goals.
Assessing Your Objectives
Choosing an e-discovery seminar is a lot like choosing a course for school. To narrow your options, start by honing in on your objectives. Once you identify why you want to attend an e-discovery educational event, you can make an informed decision. Consider what you want to learn. For example, you might want to learn how to use review software, or perhaps you want to gain a solid understanding of the nuts and bolts of document collection, review and production. Whatever your specific objectives are, identify them first.
Next, assess your knowledge or skill level and determine the level of knowledge you hope to walk away with. Are you nearing the end of your course work and looking to become an expert on a particular aspect of e-discovery? Or are you beginning your paralegal education and want to gain basic background knowledge?
Evaluate your program options by considering which of them can help you meet your goals. Read the course descriptions and speaker biographies to gain a better understanding of the topics that will be addressed and the level of expertise of the instructors.
If possible, ask other students, professors and professionals who have attended these types of programs about their experiences. In addition to content and speakers, find out if the program format is appropriate for your individual learning style. Consider factors such as audience size and instruction methods. For example, if you are a hands-on learner, a program that only provides instruction in a large-group lecture format probably is not a good fit.
Finding the Funds
Once you have identified a program you would like to attend, your next challenge might be finding the funds to finance the seminar. CLE seminars can be expensive, but there are cost-saving options. Sometimes e-discovery seminars offer discounts to students or professional association members. Even if a discount isn’t stated in the event policy, check with event organizers. Another option is to offer to write about the seminar in your university paper or professional organization publication. This could result in a registration fee discount or free admittance if the event organizers are willing to offer you a press pass.
Keep in mind that knowledge can be acquired in many ways. Online seminars often are free and provide a cost- and time-saving alternative to traveling to a seminar. In addition, subscribing to complimentary publications is an excellent way to acquire e-discovery background knowledge and stay abreast of industry developments.
Whether you are looking to enhance your résumé, acquire a specific skill or simply keep pace with changing technology, take the time to find an e-discovery education program that is right for you.
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations
and Thomson West teamed up to award scholarships to two
extraordinary paralegal students. Phyllis Johnson, a paralegal
Each applicant wrote an essay discussing how issues of networking, technology, profits to lawyers’ practices and the value of paralegals fit into the expanding paralegal profession. Visit www.paralegals.org to read the winning essays. Applicants also were judged by the NFPA Advisory Board on academic records, extracurricular activities and recommendations from professors or work supervisors. Each of the winners’ letters of recommendations discussed their analytical ability and willingness to take extraordinary measures to complete projects.
Two NFPA/Thomson West scholarships are awarded to paralegal students each year at the annual NFPA convention. Visit the NFPA Web site at www.paralegals.org for details and information on the next application deadline.
The following is a list of vendors that provide e-discovery instruction and CLE courses. All of the providers listed offer courses and events on a continual basis in various locations throughout the year.
LexisNexis’ Applied Discovery www.lexisnexis.com/applieddiscovery
Applied Discovery is an e-discovery service provider that caters to law firms and corporations. Applied Discovery offers intensive full-day advanced e-discovery courses. The courses include instruction on how to manage electronic document review, as well as sessions on case law and rules updates, technology issues and document retention policies. Attendees of the 2006 courses earned six CLE credits.
In addition to appearing at trade shows and conferences, Fios, an e-discovery service provider, offers Webcasts on e-discovery issues throughout the year, as well as Webcasts on demand. Topics include strategies for implementing effective e-discovery management, best practices for litigation support and e-discovery, and managing e-mail. Fios also offers e-discovery-related podcasts on demand.
Kroll Ontrack www.krollontrack.com
Kroll Ontrack is an e-discovery and computer forensics service provider that runs CLE training courses for attorneys and litigation support staff. It provides both basic and advanced training in single and multiday sessions. Visit Kroll’s Web site for information about CLE credit for each event.
West LegalWorks www.westlegalworks.com/events
DigiLearn Online Continuing Legal Education www.digilearnonline.com
This online CLE provider offers a course called “E-discovery: Procedural and Forensic Protocols.” The course provides various CLE credits, according to your state, and covers spoliation, best practices and software choices, among other topics.
Law.com’s CLE Center http://clecenter.com/zantaz.htm
Sponsored by Zantaz, a full-service e-discovery
In addition to vendor-sponsored electronic discovery programs, check with your local and state bar associations, and national and local paralegal associations, as well as area law firms — these often are great resources for electronic discovery CLE opportunities.
Kaitlin Creager is part of the Legal
Technologies group at Kroll Ontrack, an e-discovery and computer
forensics service provider. Creager is responsible for product,
service and brand awareness.
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