Most law schools are still failing to add eDiscovery courses and options for experiential learning to their curriculum and core offerings. Every law school website I go to says that they are committed to preparing their students for legal service, but can you really say this if you don’t teach them about the work they will actually do their first few years, hopefully at a law firm or in-house at a corporation?
TCDI is truly committed to this educational track, and we are partnering with forward thinking law schools who understand what it means to prepare students for life after graduation (https://www.tcdi.com/news/).
There are many core tasks that a new lawyer will be assigned to do when they are first hired. Among these are legal research, litigation coding, document review and contract abstraction and review. Often, deer-in-headlights, these new attorneys have no idea how to actually perform this work, from a hands-on standpoint.
How do I login to the review platform?
What are analytics?
Can I see red-lined versions of contract drafts?
How do I ask ROSS a question, and what do I do with the response?
What is a near-duplicate?
Experienced lawyers are busy and are usually trying to solve problems. They don’t have time to do the grunt work of sifting through documents or running searches in LexisNexis or managing a review project. That is why they have 1st and 2nd years do this work – they view it as a learning experience and often do not have their own high level assignments, so they are designated helpers to the more senior lawyers.
Learning about the whole discovery process with hands-on experience in school would serve two purposes. First, for the student, it will greatly prepare them for the work they will actually do at the beginning of their career. This will make them more attractive candidates in the hiring process because, given the choice, people with experience usually win jobs over people without experience. After school, not only do these students graduate with an JD, they also have a resume filled with project experience.
The second purpose a hands-on discovery education serves is for the hiring companies. Having the burden lifted of training new hires in basic legal work, coupled with the speed to confidence in these individuals doing the work, is immeasurable. A common complaint I hear from law firm and corporate clients alike is how long it takes to train new hires. They spend months training new lawyers on performing these essential tasks, and so do we when we have new hires who have recently passed the bar.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a more well-rounded, experienced work force coming directly out of law school? We think so. Which is why we are committed to being the change we want to see in the world.
We are working with law schools to open legal service centers on-campus in law libraries. We hire both students and area contract attorneys to work side-by-side on client projects ranging from legal research to document review. We also work with professors to embed eDiscovery training, from processing to case management, into their curriculum by providing training clinics, workshops and access to demo workspaces for processing and review platform use.
I think there is a time and place for a shift in legal services delivery. That time is now, and that place is on law school campuses across the US.