Your single source for new lessons on legal technology, e-discovery, and the people innovating behind the scenes.

How Certifications Equip Users with a Competitive Edge

Mary Rechtoris

Heading into the new year, many of us look for ways to better ourselves. For some, this may mean swapping out your Netflix subscription for a Kindle. Others may try to get in more steps or take the stairs instead of the elevator.

The new year also presents a great opportunity to strategize on advancing your career. For many Relativity community members, this means adding a certification to their belt.

Like any substantial goal, certifications take a good deal of work. Users spend months poring over study materials to take an exam. But few rewards are as immediately sweet as updating your LinkedIn profile with your new credential.

Of course, certifications have other, longer-term benefits, too. They show that you put in the work to enhance your knowledge and skillset in a given area, and that kind of validation can help you stand out in the crowd.

Raising Your Profile with Certifications

In addition to third party certifications, recognized proficiency in your team’s e-discovery platform can help validate your effectiveness and advance your skills.

It’s easy to see that the Relativity community is seeing the value of such certifications thanks to the increase in certified users. In 2012, 417 users had earned their Relativity Certified Administrator designation. This year, that number hit 1,922 RCAs.

Even with that increase, when the total number of users in the platform is over 180,000, those elite experts still stand out.

To learn more about the benefits certifications offer, we teamed up with Jared Coseglia, founder and CEO of Tru Staffing Partners. His team recently conducted a survey assessing whether certified professionals—in this case, RCAs—had a competitive advantage over those without the designation.

The survey set out to answer:

  • Will an RCA help an applicant’s likelihood of getting a job placement?
  • Will an RCA increase a professional’s salary?

The research found RCAs, in fact, do have a competitive advantage.  

RCA job applicants have a slight advantage of moving to the interview phase, and RCAs earned an 8.4 percent higher salary in 2017, compared to non-RCAs.  

Additionally, the designation inspires employers' confidence in their team members. Susan Sepe, an e-discovery technology manager at Paul Weiss, has found this to be true in her role.

“When my boss asks me how to solve a problem or for my input as it relates to developing a workflow, he knows that he can trust my recommendation, as it is backed by expertise and validated by certification,” Susan noted.

Professionals are finding value in certifying their expertise in more specific areas of Relativity, too. As of September 2018, 571 users have earned new certifications in specialties including Analytics, Infrastructure, Processing, and RelativityOne.

So what does it take to start adding these designations to your professional profile? Let’s take a look at two journeys from a couple of our newest certified users.

The Road to Taking the RCU: Olga’s Story

As an e-discovery project manager at CSX, Olga advises e-discovery legal teams regarding EDRM and ESI collection, review, and production according to technical capabilities of Relativity and other e-discovery tools.

To drive better collaboration with review teams, Olga decided to take the Relativity Certified User exam.

“To be successful at my job, it is important that I am in tune with the reviewer’s experience,” she said.  

Olga’s manager, Lisa Balter, was supportive of Olga’s decision to get certified.

“Relativity’s certifications add tremendous value as our team learns more about the platform every year,” Lisa said. “We always look at new offerings.”

Olga set her sights set on getting certified at Relativity Fest earlier this year. When the event was two months away, she formed a study plan and allotted two hours daily to preparation.

Olga dove into user documentation and read (and re-read) the exam workbook. She watched webinars and looked over Relativity's recipes for common workflows.

After two months of prep work, Olga was ready to roll.

The Road to Taking the RCA: Wade’s Story

Soon after joining Sandline Discovery’s team as a project engineer in April, Wade Riemenschneider put plans in motion to earn his RCA.

“Sandline has pushed me on personal development,” Wade said. “I have the opportunity to better myself in activities that help me improve in my job.”

Many would assume Wade wouldn’t need to do much prep for the exam. He has been using Relativity since 2011 and has processed and produced data while performing workspace administrative activities over all this time.

However, certification illustrates a user's proficiency in the entire platform.

“I felt very comfortable using Relativity and administering workspaces," Wade said. "Studying showed me there was still room for improvement. You must know Relativity inside and out.”

After registering for the exam, Wade spent two to three hours daily studying. He referred to RCA study resources to fill in any knowledge gaps.

“To date, my focus has been on Relativity Processing,” Wade said. “I realized I needed to focus on analytics workflows."

Wade spent months bolstering his weak points. He created searches and ran email threading in his prep environment.

Come October, it was time to put Wade’s skills to the test.

Leaving Chicago Armed with Certification

Olga and Wade walked into Relativity Fest ready to earn their certifications. Their work paid off; both passed their respective exams.

“I was almost too nervous to open the email and see my results,” Wade said. “After a minute or two, I finally bit the bullet and saw that I passed. I immediately went to registration to pick up my RCA banner for my lanyard.”

Olga and Wade may have left Chicago certified, but their journeys are not over.

Down the road, Olga plans to become a Relativity Project Management Specialist. Wade plans to earn his Relativity Processing Specialist certification.

“I’m already prepping for that exam and want to pass it as soon as possible,” Wade said.

If Wade passes, he would become a Relativity Expert. To reach this level, RCAs need to earn two additional certifications.

"I am excited to get to that level," Wade said. "It would show my dedication to driving efficiency and illustrates my years of hard work."

What are your certification goals going into 2019? Let us know in the comments or on LinkedIn.

Learn About e-Discovery Certifications You Can Earn From Home

Mary Rechtoris is a senior producer on the brand team at Relativity, where she's always collaborating and looking for new ways to develop and socialize stories.