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Anyone associated with the legal field knows what discovery is and how important it is during the course of a trial or during any legal proceeding.  But what exactly is e-discovery or “electronic discovery”? It’s a rapidly growing field within the legal sector where investigators who work for law firms or attorneys incorporate the technological advances of the internet in an effort to gather information about a client or other party involved in a case.

While the internet is a vast resource for learning anything about anyone via search engines, social networking sites like Facebook and the availability of public records, one still must know how to streamline a search and bypass certain electronic road blocks.  With recent changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the field is expected to reach over $21 billion dollars through 2011. This is remarkable considering it’s a relatively new field.  The demand is huge and continues to grow. This fact, of course, ensures a lucrative career can be had in this field.

A. Harrison Barnes, founder of and, says the field of law continues to emerge as it adapts to ever changing technological advances as well as legal guidelines being updated to meet these new avenues of information retrieval.  Because the field is relatively new, it’s not uncommon for paralegals and others in the legal profession to transition over to these e-discovery opportunities. Job openings are being created in law firms across the country and reports an increasing interest in people looking for help in creating the perfect legal resume and attorney cover letter to effectively introduce themselves as e-discovery experts.

Further, A. Harrison Barnes believes the demand will increase as more legal professionals become familiar with the benefits of having these experienced personnel.  But what exactly are the responsibilities of those who conduct e discovery?

  • Manage electronic data, maintaining both privacy and chain of custody issues without compromise
  • Identify, collect, process and review information needed in litigation and/or criminal cases
  • Conducting assessments with clients
  • Sitting in on meetings to collect appropriate information to better collect relevant information in the e discovery phase
  • Defining a firm’s compliance guidelines for information gathered in e discovery
  • Sometimes serving as go-between with other personnel, attorneys and paralegals.

As you can see, the responsibilities are broad and are defined within each firm that employs e discovery experts.  Still, because this field is still in its infancy, those trailblazers just now entering this sector will play a significant role in how future e discovery related fields are defined. To be sure, this is an exciting new legal employment opportunity. It’s important to remember, too, each law firm will likely have its own educational requirements, but often, paralegals make the easy transition while others who seek these positions have different levels of degrees and different backgrounds. Many retired investigators, IT experts and a myriad of other qualified applicants will likely fill these positions as they grow and emerge over the next several years.

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