It can be difficult to keep up with the rapid evolution of eDiscovery law, practice and technology. The good news is that there are many high quality educational and training resources available at low (or even no) cost. The bad news? Between busy schedules and too frequent emergencies, continuing education can easily be left out. Here are three strategies for making the most of eDiscovery resources without breaking the time bank.
1. Commit to daily reading in small doses.
My best advice is to read regularly in small doses. Make an appointment with yourself for 15 to 20 minutes of reading a day, four to five days a week. Literally put it on your calendar if that’s what it takes to enforce a consistent habit.
The easiest way to create a reading plan is to subscribe to 10-15 quality publications. I recommend a mix of legal news sites, professional organization newsletters, and legal blogs. There are many good blogs to choose from. Three that I follow are eDiscovery Today (eDiscovery case law and industry updates), Ride the Lightning (cybersecurity news), and Artificial Lawyer (legal technology news and analysis).
Following good productivity practices will prevent your inbox from exploding with new subscriptions. Customize subscription settings for daily or weekly updates. Create Outlook rules to send emails directly to a “news” folder.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to read everything. Scan the titles for an overview and only click on the links that seem particularly interesting or relevant to your practice.
2. Regularly attend presentations (and conferences if possible).
Build on the foundation of daily reading by regularly attending live or webinar presentations. A good baseline is somewhere between quarterly and monthly. Over the course of a year, you will have covered several topics, but without risking burnout. You can always adjust the pace up or down to suit your schedule and interests.
If conferences are an option, try to attend one or two a year, preferably in person. Conferences combine formal and informal education through a mix of presentations, vendor rooms, and networking events.
Do you belong to professional organizations? Presentations from community organizations such as city bar associations and local chapters of national groups such as Women in eDiscovery, ACEDS, and ILTA are also prime networking opportunities. If you have an annual CLE requirement, you can earn your credits, learn something useful, and foster relationships all at the same time.
3. For software training, focus on type and duration.
The conundrum of software training is that we need it, but often don’t get much out of it. Ineffective training is a complex issue, but we can take steps to improve our individual experience. One of them is to focus on the type and timing of training.
First, look for experiential training like workshops and virtual training environments. Hands-on learning is much more effective than passive learning, especially for new users. Additionally, schedule follow-up questions by learning about the knowledge base and support options and how to access them.
Second, include training in the project schedule so you can schedule it closer to the project start date. This turns the project itself into an opportunity to learn by doing. Short-term training also promotes commitment. Immediate need is the best motivation to pay attention during training and resist work interruptions and digital distractions.
Continuing education in law and technology is essential to eDiscovery. Fortunately, educational and training resources are readily available. Practitioners can make the most of these resources with simple planning and consistent application.