Warning: Shift Ahead – Are You Ready?


A paralegal wrote in with this question:

Is it worth it for a paralegal to sit for the eDiscovery Certification Exam?

Of course, I jumped right on this question!

As Chairperson of the Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP) and a co-founder of the International Paralegal Management Association, author of 10 books on legal careers and Editor-in-Chief of KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals (ok, ok…lol), I have strong opinions about the value of getting the CeDP – certification in eDiscovery for paralegals and legal professionals.

The legal market is leaning towards less work done by lawyers and more work done by paralegals. Lately, its all over the news in articles, reports…I even just viewed an international expert on CNN claiming the same thing.

As this change occurs, paralegals are going to face even more competition for their jobs.  Employers are going to weed out and keep the best of the best.  Certification means two things:  you have the knowledge and experience to qualify as an expert in the core competencies of a given arena.

Think towards the future. Sure, you may be set for now – but let's face it. A few years ago, did anyone think (in the cushy economy) that a deep recession was coming and thousands upon thousands of legal professionals – in the very best law firms, mind you – would get laid off and to this day, may be having problems finding work? No.

However, in competing for jobs, the ones with the best experience and education stood a better chance of qualifying.  Yes, some may have had to take a cut in salary or a step back. But many, many did not. Why? Because they had the qualifications to beat out other paralegals for a highly coveted job.

Education means everything in the law firm environment.  Many times, it's how you are judged. Common questions that abound in the law firm include: Was your paralegal program ABA approved?  And for lawyers:  What school did you go to? Where did you rank in your class? These questions regarding qualifications are asked because law firms want the best of the best. No matter what law firm you go to. The best of the best wins every time.

OLP created a very strong certification exam, the CeDP. It took 18 months to develop by a team of 27 experts – attorneys, law professors, consultants, litigation support professionals and included paralegals. It is one of only two exams available today. I believe OLP is the only organization that saw the value of the paralegal's hands-on expertise and input in developing this exam. (I could be wrong.)

OLP developed the exam with Pearson Publications (a $7 billion company). Pearson provided the technology for the exam and OLP provided the content. Pearson provided the psychometrics (a science to ensure fairness and non-bias) and five Ph.Ds. Pearson also has expertise in highly valued exams such as the LSATs, GRE and GMATs.

Do yourself a favor. Think to your future in this field. As a member of the legal community for 25 years, I can assure you, education and the open acknowledgement of education (degrees, certification, etc.) and experience counts heavily in this field.

For more information, please visit OLP's website at www.theolp.org or contact me at chere.estrin@theolp.org.