A new non-profit calling itself the Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP for short) has formed to establish global standards and certification for the eDiscovery process. Interestingly enough, the board and initial membership reaches across a number of eDiscovery parties. They include attorneys, paralegals, IT, litigation support professionals, consultants, vendors, eDiscovery vendors, and judges. I was glad to see that IT is represented. IT is all too often left out of the usual eDiscovery loop but they are critical to its success in these fast-changing times.
The OLP's central push is standardized training and certification for certain eDiscovery job sectors, particularly EDD staff attorneys, paralegals and litigation support IT. They are emphasizing interdisciplinary team approaches, which is exactly right. I have maintained for a long time that corporate eDiscovery cannot significantly reduce risk and expenses unless it encourages teams made up of GC and IT. And these teams also benefit from records managers and compliance folks, since the same technology that aids the eDiscovery process can also benefit these business units as well.
The OLP has taken on a big job and a short timeline to accomplish it. They've started off with a rather impressive Board of Governors but their big job for 2009 will be to garner members. They can only succeed with industry certification if they have a large enough active membership, if the members are influential enough within their various disciplines, and if employers decide to use certification as a hiring consideration.
We won't see certification as a necessity for general IT; I doubt it would even enter their radar. Nor is it likely to be a standard in the eDiscovery for some time yet, if ever. But for the growing corps of eDiscovery professionals across all these job sectors, certification might be a useful line to add to the resume. OLP plans on adding more membership services than standards and certification, but will require an active community to accomplish those plans.
For more information about The OLP you can go to www.theolp.org.