Law Technology News (1 August 2011) carries four related articles about recent e-discovery certification developments. For those interested in the topic, this is essential reading. 

The lead article by well-know e-discovery expert Patrick Oot, E-Discovery Certification: Sham Exams?, questions the value of certifications; the related articles are:

I am a member of the Board of Governors of the Organization of Legal Professionals, so arguably I have “skin in the game.” While some of the articles’ language and headlines inflame, on balance, they present the issues fairly.

I accepted the invitation to the Board of OLP a couple of years ago because (1) I believed the legal market needed more and better e-discovery professionals and (2) thought that certification would help meet that need and encourage training. I know that “certification” in the legal market has long been a loaded topic. For example, when I managed legal technology at two large firms, I found that some of the best staff had virtually no formal IT training or certifications. And some of the worst had extensive formal training and certifications.

The lesson I draw is that the market should assess the value of certification (and, for that matter, any particular training program). If training and certification providers accurately represent their offerings and disclose relevant information, then test-takers, course-takers, and employers can decide on the merits. Like most decisions in life, outcomes are not guaranteed. Taking an e-discovery class or sitting for a certification may or may not enhance careers. I don’t see how this differs from any investment anyone makes in any type of education or certificate. And that’s why I think the market needs to decide the right answer.

Beyond that general statement, I comment on a single element only. One can read portions of these articles as impugning the motives of some of the players. On that, I share Ralph Losey’s view that “Everyone I know in this field means well, even those, who unlike me, operate their programs as a business, in some cases a big business. What is wrong with free enterprise?”