What is an E-discovery Lawyer?

Written by Heidi Turner7 minutes well spent
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Image of an e-discovery lawyer investigating documents with a magnifying glass

In today’s digital age, the role of the e-discovery lawyer is increasingly important. Attorneys who specialize in e-discovery ensure information relevant to legal matters is carefully preserved, reviewed, and produced in compliance with regulations. Their expertise streamlines the discovery process, protects the integrity of sensitive information, and ensures legal compliance, making them crucial to the legal process. 

E-discovery lawyers: An introduction

An e-discovery lawyer is a lawyer who uses technology to conduct legal discovery and to manage electronic legal data in a law database. During the discovery phase of a legal proceeding–where the parties exchange information relevant to the legal matter–an e-discovery lawyer will identify, collect, review, and produce electronically stored information. 

 

With so much communication and information stored electronically–in emails, social media, and digital files–e-discovery is crucial in ensuring all relevant digital evidence is found, collected, and reviewed. This gives attorneys a complete picture of the facts of a legal proceeding. 

E-discovery attorneys oversee this process, ensuring it’s carried out correctly and in compliance with legal standards and regulations. However, such information must first be found, then filtered for relevance and analyzed for information. It must also be properly stored so it maintains confidentiality and can easily be found when needed. 

Lawyers who specialize in e-discovery use automated tools, knowledge of best practices, and technological expertise to manage the process. They understand the best automated tools to use, which makes the e-discovery process more efficient and reduces the risk of human error. Automation of such time-consuming processes can significantly reduce the resources required for manual document review, saving valuable time and money. 

How does e-discovery help a case?

E-discovery enables early assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a legal case, potentially resulting in faster outcomes. 

E-discovery also enhances:

  • Compliance: Using proper e-discovery practices ensures law firms are compliant with legal requirements for evidence preservation, collection, and production. 
  • Case strategy: E-discovery can both reveal critical insights and contribute to a fair and just resolution.
  • Transparency: Use of e-discovery ensures both parties have access to the same information. 
  • Data security: Proper processes maintain the integrity of electronic evidence, ensuring it’s admissible in court. These processes also protect sensitive and confidential information.  
Image of an e-discovery lawyer reviewing documents on a laptop

Role and responsibilities of an e-discovery lawyer

An e-discovery attorney plays a pivotal role in document review and analysis. This starts at the planning stage, where they assess the scope and nature of the case to determine the volume and types of electronic data involved. They then map out sources of relevant information. Such sources might include emails, databases, social media accounts, or digital documents.

Next they collect and preserve data, issuing legal hold notices and working with IT professionals to ensure data is collected efficiently, thoroughly, and accurately. From there, e-discovery attorneys are responsible for:

  • Selecting and configuring the best e-discovery tools and software for the project.
  • Creating and applying search terms and filters to ensure they receive the most relevant documents.
  • Managing a team of reviewers if necessary.
  • Determining document relevance to a case.
  • Tagging and coding documents so they can be easily found.
  • Implementing quality control measures to ensure accuracy of the review.
  • Addressing and correcting any errors identified during quality control checks.
  • Identifying key evidence that supports or refutes legal positions.
  • Analyzing data for trends, patterns, and connections within the data that may provide strategic insights. 
  • Ensuring sensitive or confidential information is properly redacted before documents are produced. 
  • Complying with court requirements and opposing counsel agreements in document production. 
  • Updating clients on the progress of the review.
  • Working with legal teams to integrate findings into the overall case strategy. 

Career requirements for becoming an e-discovery lawyer

Educational qualifications and certifications for e-discovery lawyers

E-discovery attorneys are lawyers with a technical specialization. To become an e-discovery lawyer, you first need to take the steps required to be a lawyer

  • Obtain an undergraduate degree
  • Attend and complete law school
  • Pass the bar exam

While in law school, someone hoping to become an e-discovery lawyer could take courses related to technology law, cybersecurity, e-discovery (if such courses are available), and intellectual property. 

Additionally, specialized e-discovery training and certifications will help gain expertise. 

Certified E-Discovery Specialist (CEDS) Certification, which is offered by the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS), covers a range of topics related to e-discovery. 

There are also various technical courses that can help with specific aspects of e-discovery, such as digital forensics, information governance, and data management. 

It takes a combination of legal knowledge, technical skills, and personal characteristics to be successful at e-discovery. Being a lawyer, you’ll need all relevant legal knowledge, such as understanding of discovery rules, familiarity with relevant legal processes, expertise in reviewing and analyzing documents, and ability to conduct legal research. 

Because large amounts of information are being reviewed, analyzed, and summarized, you’ll need excellent writing skills for drafting clear legal documents and motions. 

Additionally, you’ll need technical skills, such as:

  • An ability to collect, preserve, and manage large datasets
  • A familiarity with e-discovery platforms
  • An understanding of digital forensics to identify, collect, and analyze electronic evidence
  • A robust knowledge of IT concepts, such as data storage, network systems, and cybersecurity. 

You’ll also need a knowledge of industry standards and best practices, such as the Electronic Discovery Reference Model. Because e-discovery attorneys are responsible for sensitive information, they must understand data privacy laws and security protocols. 

Staying updated through continuing education and professional development and actively participating in professional organizations helps e-discovery lawyers stay informed of industry shifts, regulatory changes, and new technologies. 

E-discovery lawyers are ideally highly organized, able to meet tight deadlines and prioritize tasks, and detail oriented. 

Professional associations and networking opportunities for e-discovery lawyers

Among the associations and organizations that support e-discovery lawyers are:

Image of an e-discovery lawyer at an interview shaking hands with interviewer

Job outlook for e-discovery lawyers

Given the increasing reliance on electronic data in legal proceedings, and the growing regulatory complexity of managing electronic data, the job prospects are generally positive for e-discovery attorneys. As more businesses and individuals generate and store their data electronically, the need for legal professionals to manage and review this data also grows. Complex litigation, such as class action lawsuits and intellectual property disputes, frequently involve massive amounts of electronic evidence. 

Many law firms recognize the need for e-discovery lawyers or departments. Additionally, some large corporations that generate their own vast amounts of electronic data have in-house legal teams devoted to e-discovery. 

Salaries for e-discovery lawyers vary, but are generally competitive and come with opportunities for career advancement. 

E-discovery is crucial for modern legal practices. It enables attorneys to manage and access vast amounts of electronic data while remaining compliant with regulations. As the digital landscape evolves, the role of e-discovery will likely increase in importance, making it a vital tool for law firms and legal teams. 

Discover how Clio enhances your legal practice by seamlessly integrating with leading e-discovery tools like Logikcull, Lexbe, and Leaguewell. Explore the power of Clio’s integrations and streamline your workflow, making case management more efficient and effective. Book a demo to see how Clio’s many integrations can transform your legal practice today. 

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