ACEDS is an important resource for the legal profession


The Board of the ACEDS - Detroit Chapter met recently to finalize plans for its upcoming May 7 panel discussion on Technology Assisted Review (TAR), which will be held at Kelly Services Headquarters in Troy. Board members include: (front row, l-r) Beth Niepokuj and Penny Jones; (back row, l-r) Scott Petz, Barbara Bennett, and Denise Bach.

E-discovery knowledge now essential, chapter head says

By Debra Talcott
Legal News

With about 1,500 members globally, 43 of whom are in the Detroit Chapter, the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) is an important resource for the legal profession. The mission of ACEDS is to help professionals in various disciplines improve and certify their e-discovery knowledge and skill, advance their careers, increase their contacts, and increase overall competence in e-discovery and related fields.

President of the Detroit Chapter, Barbara Bennett, explains that ACEDS was established to meet the need for a professional association that promotes competence in this area of increasingly high risks and costs.

“ACEDS was founded in 2010 by group of certification industry veterans who have years of experience with member associations and developing professional training offerings and credentials,” says Bennett, who is a manager of the e-discovery practice within the Dispute Advisory & Forensic Services Group at the national advisory services firm Stout Risius Ross.

“Most notably, ACEDS constructed the Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist    credential, which is held by more than 7,500 practitioners in 140 countries,” says Bennett, whose own experience includes managing e-discovery projects in complex litigation cases involving issues such as IP theft, business technology copyrights, patents, trademarks, and disputes in the areas of employment, environment, and divorce.

 ACEDS takes pride in being the organization to establish the field’s first certification exam for e-discovery specialists. Qualified candidates who pass this rigorous exam earn the right to use the Certified E-Discovery Specialist (CEDS™) certification.

“The (CEDS) credential was developed by leading practitioners to help establish a baseline standard of skill and knowledge for those who work in in the field and their employers,” says Bennett. “It validates competence in an area of law that does not have clearly defined standards.”

The national organization was purchased in 2013 by BARBRI, the leading provider of legal education. It is guided by an advisory board that includes a member of the U.S. Advisory Committee on Civil Rules, general counsel for the fifth largest hospital chain in the U.S., the e-discovery director for the largest health care provider in the U.S., the director of the New Jersey Division of Law, and other distinguished professionals from leading law firms, corporations, and providers.

Bennett, who has lived in the Detroit area for more than 30 years, says ACEDS is an essential resource for today’s legal professionals because e-discovery has become the most expensive element of most federal litigation.

“E-discovery is increasingly ubiquitous in state cases, and it is an area of exceedingly high cost and professional risk. The examples of courts sanctioning litigants and their counsel for e-discovery misconduct, whether accidental or intentional, are innumerable,” says Bennett.

Membership in ACEDS provides a professional forum where practitioners can share ideas, guidance, and best practices for meeting the challenges posed by e-discovery and information management.

“It is also committed to helping make discovery—which can be used as a weapon to wear down litigation adversaries and is so potentially costly as to keep would-be litigants out of the courtroom in the first place—more equitable,” adds Bennett.

The Detroit Chapter of ACEDS holds educational meetings for its members several times a year and hosts additional social networking events. The topic of their May 7 meeting is Technology Assisted Review (TAR), which will be presented in a panel discussion format that includes Jay Yelton from Warner Norcross & Judd and
Constantine Pappas, an expert in computer-assisted review who works for a software provider which uses TAR technology.

Membership dues that include both the Detroit Chapter and the national organization are $195 annually. Besides the community building and networking that occurs at ACEDS meetings, benefits of membership include CEDS certification, news and information at, and an annual three-day conference that brings in expert speakers on a variety of topics and provides materials and networking opportunities for attendees. The 2015 conference will be held in Washington, D.C. September 28-30.

The ACEDS website posts informative articles, such as a recent one describing the training federal judges are receiving on the topics of cyber-crime and surveillance.  The article explains that the need for education in e-discovery will increase if the Supreme Court approves recent proposed changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For example, a proposed Amendment to Rule 1 would likely prompt judges to become more active in managing the discovery phase of a trial.

The website also provides resources such as a job board where candidates can apply directly and podcasts on a variety of related topics, such as one from January about audio files as the target of investigative inquiries and discovery efforts.

“I highly encourage all litigation practitioners, in-house counsel, as well as litigation support specialists to become members of ACEDS and join our local chapter,” Bennett said. “Michigan is rich with talented e-discovery professionals, attorneys and judges, and we’re excited to bring them, as well as other industry leaders, to our local meetings to share their insights and expertise and discuss ‘best practices’ with respect to a wide range of e-discovery challenges. Please visit our chapter website to learn more about ACEDS and our upcoming events.”