The CEDS Exam: Becoming a Certified E-Discovery Specialist

studying for the CEDS exam
Recently I sat for the Certified E-Discovery Specialist (CEDS) examination offered by the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS). For those not familiar with the organization, ACEDS is a BARBRI Professional Association that “is building a community of e-discovery specialists for the exchange of ideas, guidance, training and best practices.” Having attended many of their training seminars and networking events, I decided it was time to take the obvious next step and earn my certification.

For anyone currently considering or preparing for the CEDS exam, I thought it might be helpful to read a peer’s experience. I’ve also included my own preparation materials below, which should be a useful resource whether you’re studying for the exam yourself, or just interested in a primer on each stage in the EDRM lifecycle.

ACEDS Exam Study Guide

Having spent the past several years working and growing in the e-discovery field, I assumed I was well-prepared to take and pass the exam, and I waited until my scheduled test date was fast approaching to finally watch the three training webinars or crack the 160-page CEDS Exam Preparation Manual.

Immediately upon diving into the prep materials, I realized that the exam would require a detailed understanding of nearly every stage of the EDRM. This was not altogether surprising, and having spent years consulting during collections, processing, review and production, I felt fairly prepared for these sections. However, it was clear that certain sections, such as the one focusing on international discovery and EU data privacy laws, would require immediate attention.

While I still had the webinars and manual to help me fill the holes in my knowledge base, the materials were (understandably) not drafted with my personal knowledge gaps in mind, and the information I most needed was scattered throughout the documents. In short, there was real work to be done. Given that failure was not an option, I channeled my younger law school self, cleared out the considerable mental dust that had accumulated over the years, and drafted an old school outline. On test day, I walked into the center confident I was ready for the exam.

The test itself was pretty much as expected: 145 questions that must be answered in four hours. The time allotted was more than sufficient, although I would caution those with past experience running up against the clock to consider skipping past some of the budgeting questions on the first go and saving them for last. They are easy enough, but require a good deal of time consuming arithmetic.

The test results are available as soon as you hit submit, which is probably the most exciting advancement in test taking since my law school days. In my case, I passed (whew!), but appreciated a section-by-section breakdown of my score alerting me to gaps in my study materials.

Hoping to help others considering sitting for the exam, I soon went back and updated the outline for anyone to download. I hope you find it useful as either a CEDS study resource or perhaps as an overall introduction to the EDRM. Good luck to those taking the exam!

And finally, a healthy lawyerly disclaimer…

The outline offered herein is based on the CEDS Exam Preparation Manual, Second Edition, December 2012 (the “Manual”), which is copyright 2012 Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) Miami, USA. While the Manual and the outline are designed to help candidates prepare for the examination, no guarantee, warranty, or representation is made that candidates will pass the CEDS examination as a result of using or studying the Manual or outline. Finally, neither the author of this post, ACEDS, the editors nor contributors is engaged in rendering any legal or other professional service.

5 thoughts on “The CEDS Exam: Becoming a Certified E-Discovery Specialist

  1. Mark Cuevas says:

    Excellent work, Charles. I think the outline you prepared will go a long way toward helping others pass the ACEDS exam. And you even provided some test-taking tips! Well done.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. How has obtaining the ACEDS certification benefited your firm?

  3. Charles Marr says:

    Great question! The ACEDS certification objectively establishes that our firm has the expertise to provide intelligent counsel across all phases of the EDRM lifecycle. In addition to our years of experience and documented case success, CEDS certification serves as an outside validator clients appreciate. Obtaining CEDS certification is additionally an asset within the firm as we work to develop and cultivate the professional development of our more junior associates, who appreciate mentors that stay on the cutting edge of our industry.

  4. Anil says:

    Thanks for outlining your exp.
    How often the certification has to renewed??
    Will the certification be helpfull in India?

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