The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust
E-discovery education is lawyers and judges teaching lawyers and judges the law of discovery, but little of the “e.” This closed loop is unhealthy because it reinforces the misperception that understanding what makes digital different doesn’t matter.
But, of course it does.
It’s human nature to set the standards for competence so that you meet them. No one wants to define themselves out of a job. As a result, the trial bar keeps telling itself that grasping the bits and bytes of information technology is someone else’s problem…or not a problem. “The top lawyers and judges out there don’t know that stuff, so it can’t be something a lawyer or judge needs to know.” That’s the view through old eyes.
I dump on lawyers for ducking the obligation to to be competent in a world teeming with electronic evidence. But I recognize that even the brave souls that try to cultivate new eyes for digital evidence are confounded by the paucity of e-discovery instruction affording equal stature to the technology. Where do lawyers learn the very thing that makes e-discovery so daunting for them? Where do they learn it in the unique context of trial practice and put their newfound skills into practice?
Right now, there’s probably only one answer to those questions: the Georgetown E-Discovery Training Academy, a weeklong program offered in early June, with the next Academy starting on June 2nd.
I volunteer my time to teach all week at the Academy, as do Judges John Facciola and Judge Paul Grimm. Michael Arkfeld teaches from his encyclopedic treatise. Maura Grossman shares her deep knowledge of predictive coding. Mark Sidotti and Tom O’Connor work individually with the students. You can’t just sit there. There are significant reading requirements, tests and exercises and a team project culminating in demonstrating skills to judges.
If you want passive CLE or CPE, the Academy is not for you. But, if you want to immerse yourself in the “e,” maybe even swim towards the deeper end of the pool, there’s still time and a few seats left. This is my personal invitation to you, dear reader (whether you are lawyer, judge or lit support) to “embrace the ‘e'” and come spend a week in D.C. with me and the rest of this fine faculty. Together, we will work hard and to cultivate new eyes and new skills in e-discovery.
I hope to see you. Click here for new eyes on the real voyage of e-discovery.