eDiscovery Daily Blog

Mary Mack of ACEDS: eDiscovery Trends

During the recent ILTACON conference (wrap-up post about the conference here), I had an opportunity to speak with several thought leaders that are involved with various educational initiatives in the eDiscovery industry, which spurred an idea to conduct a thought leader interview series of leaders within those organizations.  So, I will be publishing interviews with those thought leaders over the next few weeks.  Unlike the annual LegalTech New York (LTNY) interviews, I won’t be publishing a schedule for these (I’m actually still trying to line up a couple of those interviews post-show), but you will see them sprinkled in with regular blog posts over the next few weeks.

Today’s thought leader is Mary Mack.  Mary is ACEDS’ executive director and an eDiscovery pioneer. She is known for her skills in relationship and community building as well as for the depth of her eDiscovery knowledge. Mary is the author of A Process of Illumination: The Practical Guide to Electronic Discovery, considered by many to be the first popular book on eDiscovery. She is the co-editor of the Thomson Reuters West treatise, eDiscovery for Corporate Counsel.

Prior to joining ACEDS, Mary served in a leadership role for ZyLAB, a global provider of e-discovery and intelligent information governance software.  Before that, she was with Fios, Inc. a provider of e-discovery services to Fortune 1000 corporations and major law firms.  Among her professional affiliations, Mary is a member of the Illinois State Bar. She received her bachelor’s degree from Le Moyne College and her law degree from Northwestern University School of Law.

You’ve been Executive Director at ACEDS for about a year now.  What are some of the initiatives that ACEDS has been working on during that first year?

Early in my first year as director of ACEDS, we conducted a beta round for the new exam and the exam was formally released in January.  We also have a new web site, with an expanded interactive membership portal that supports collaboration between ACEDS members and we’re very excited about that.

We have also established partnerships with several organizations, such as EDRM, Women in eDiscovery (WiE), The Masters Conference, Legal Technology Professionals Institute (LTPI) and Complex Discovery.  And, we’re working on other partnerships, including one with ARMA International.  These are all very exciting partnerships for ACEDS and are all valued partners for ACEDS.

ACEDS is now offering an exclusive package of training and certification to ABA members, and a discount on ABA dues to ACEDS members.  ABA members can get both the certification package and the E-Discovery Essentials online training at a very special price.  The ABA will notify its members that these offerings are available and will provide a section on the ABA site for these offerings, which is how the ABA members will be able to trigger the deep discount.  Conversely, ACEDS members will also be able to get a substantial discount on ABA dues.  ABA membership, besides being a wonderful educational and networking opportunity, also provides considerable benefits with regard to health, retirement, various forms of insurance and in other areas at the kind of pricing that only an organization with 350,000 members can offer.

Many people don’t know is that the ABA allows non-lawyers to join.  And, for many of us in the eDiscovery community, it is a wonderful place to learn and contribute and demonstrate expertise.

Since the “center of gravity” for ACEDS has always been certification, where do you see the eDiscovery industry heading with regard to certifications and the demand for professionals to be certified in the marketplace?

I think certification will continue to be more embraced and I’ve already seen signs of that.  Every week, I look in the LinkedIn jobs section and see positions which require CEDS certified eDiscovery specialists.  When I started looking, there were maybe one or two listings requiring CEDS certification – now there are eight or nine.  I expect that to continue to increase, for employers to be expecting their candidates to be CEDS certified as a baseline when coming into their organization.

I’m also seeing that eDiscovery teams that have worked together as a team for a while are looking to certify their teams.  One person on the team may have expertise in collection, another person may have expertise in production, but they don’t quite understand the functional requirements that each other face.  So, to increase the speed and accuracy of team communication, as well as the ability for team members to cover for each other, we’re seeing the teams get certified.  Certification is also a good way for teams to onboard new team members, which gets them up to speed more quickly.

Another area where I’m seeing an increased demand for certification – it totally surprised me at first, but now it makes perfect sense – is in the Sales area.  More sales engineers than ever are getting certified because it gives them a way to communicate with their clients on a level playing field, especially given that many of their potential clients are also certified.  Certification makes sales people more well-rounded, and that enhances their ability to sell.

Is there anything else that ACEDS is doing that you’d like our readers to know about?

There are a few additional things that we’ve been working on. We’ve expanded our educational webinar offerings and capabilities considerably.  I’ve already alluded to E-Discovery Essentials, which is an introductory training course for persons entering eDiscovery, as well as professionals who would simply like to broaden their knowledge of the eDiscovery process, without necessarily going through the formal CEDS certification process (you do receive a certificate for completing E-Discovery Essentials, however).  Both programs give attorneys the tools they need to meet growing eDiscovery competence expectations that we’ve not only seen in California with Formal Opinion No. 2015-193, but also that we are starting to see in several other states, as well.

Thanks, Mary, for participating in the interview!

And to the readers, as always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic!

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.