eDiscovery Daily Blog

Is eDiscovery “Too Practical” to Offer as Part of Law School Curriculums?: eDiscovery Trends

We’ve certainly noted before how slow law schools are to provide eDiscovery education.  But, are they slow to push for it because eDiscovery is “too practical”?  At least one law school dean suggests that might be the case.

In Legaltech® News (‘Too Practical’? Why Some Law Schools Don’t Offer E-Discovery Education, by Victoria Hudgins), the author notes that “most U.S. law schools aren’t providing e-discovery courses to prepare new lawyers for the potential work of examining and preserving electronic data.”

“I think part of the reason is they may not see the importance of eDiscovery or see it as very—almost ironically—too practical,” said Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law Dean Daniel Filler.

While some law schools may view eDiscovery as a practical skill they can learn later on the job, Drexel takes a different approach by offering its students a standalone eDiscovery course.

“I think a big part of 21st century legal practice is making sure that lawyers are sophisticated enough with technology that they remain in control [and make] sure they really protect their clients,” Filler said. “There is a risk with this move toward technology that they will not understand it well enough and refer to nonlawyers.”

But not all law schools see the need for dedicated eDiscovery education. While Concord Law School associate dean of faculty and professor Shaun Jamison said his law school doesn’t offer an eDiscovery course, he noted that eDiscovery is intertwined into other classes. “Having the [e-discovery] basics would be enough to understand what the issues are,” he said.

Until eDiscovery “becomes more common across legal practices”, Jamison doesn’t see more law schools implementing eDiscovery-specific courses.

Hmmm…that’s an interesting take.  How much more common does it have to become for law schools to take notice?  It’s a standard part of litigation and becoming more common in compliance and investigations too.  But, I digress…

Andrea D’Ambra, who teaches an eDiscovery course at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law and William & Mary Law School while leading Norton Rose Fulbright’s U.S. e-discovery and information governance practice, argued that basic eDiscovery knowledge is essential for litigators as electronic information grows in volume and complexity.

“We are really dealing with text messages, social media pages, emails and Slack and all these methods of communication that are really prevalent in the business world and are not necessarily easy to preserve and collect to [show] to opposing parties.”

While D’Ambra noted that name-dropping an eDiscovery course won’t get a law student an immediate job, she said it will likely get them noticed on the job.

“I think it’s undervalued when you are in the interview process but I will say I have countless students that have written to me after they get into their law firm and they say they were immediately useful to the partners.”

Sadly, most law schools don’t have an eDiscovery course, last I checked.  For every Georgetown, University of Florida and Duke University that have a program for eDiscovery, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of law schools that don’t even have any program (not even an extracurricular program), much less a formal eDiscovery course.

So, what do you think?  Will most law schools ever embrace eDiscovery best practices as a standard curriculum course?  As always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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