In 2018, advanced training and education for existing or aspiring cybersecurity and e-discovery professionals will become more critical than ever. With an estimated 2.5 million person talent gap between supply and demand for cyber talent by 2020, many professionals from tertiary disciplines like e-discovery are yearning for ways to matriculate from one industry to the other. As this trend proliferates throughout the cybersecurity industry and as price compression and vendor consolidation continue to permeate the ESI space, less experienced and less expensive talent have an opportunity to rise within both communities. There is no shortage of jobs in either discipline, but there is a desperate shortage of talent with the necessary skills.
For the last six years, TRU Staffing Partners has organized, sponsored, and deployed a one-of-a-kind scholarship program dedicated to empowering individuals thirsty for knowledge in both cybersecurity and e-discovery with the training, education, and certification that has propelled their careers and enabled both vertical and horizontal growth. A before-and-after examination of several past recipients of TRU’s array of scholarship offerings reveals just how critical training and certification have been to shaping their professional vision of self, changing their individual impact at current employers, giving leverage toward promotion or new job opportunities, and creating an enriched sense of community within their profession. The following testimonials expose the applicants’ desired training, why their application earned them the scholarships, what revelations they experienced during fulfillment, and how each intends to use the education or certification to affect change within careers and for clients.
Relativity Certified User Exam and Relativity Fest Free Pass, 2017 Winner
David Bierwirth is no stranger to certification. Before applying to TRU’s 2017 Scholarship Program, Bierwirth had already earned his ACEDS and Law PreDiscovery certifications. Bierwirth is a retired military veteran having served 20 years in the U.S. Navy on board nuclear submarines. After completion of his military service, he pursued a new career path in technology starting as a desktop support technician and later becoming a litigation technology specialist. Bierwirth is currently a litigation technology project manager and has been at his current employer, a law firm, for almost a decade. In his application, Bierwirth was open to a number of TRU’s offerings, but had his heart set on the Relativity training and a Relativity Fest conference pass.
“Our firm does not have any software in-house anymore. All our technology is hosted by vendors,” says Bierwirth. “So though I use Relativity daily, I don’t get to use it in the same way our vendors do to service us.” This paradigm, which is likely familiar to hundreds if not thousands of legal professionals, creates certain challenges for litigation support staff and review attorneys who work for firms or corporations but rely on service providers for the deeply technical hosted review platform support.
With many of Bierwirth’s clients committed to only using Relativity, having more advanced training in the tool has increased his ability to serve as an advisor to them and made him a more effective conduit between vendors and his clients. “Getting the Relativity admin class was awesome!” says Bierwirth. The education gave him an awareness of tool capabilities he is not able to access since his firm does not host the data. “Now I might ask my vendors to use certain functionalities to solve issues that, before, I didn’t even know existed,” admits Bierwirth. Some examples include ingesting new data on the fly while reviewing, redacting portions of documents, customizing redactions, using search term redaction, and more. “Even the simplest quick fix of being able to hide or show redactions with just one click was something I wasn’t aware of until now,” remarks Bierwirth.
Perhaps more potent than specific tool functionality is the increased consultative confidence Bierwirth’s training has given him in serving his attorneys. “Often my attorneys would come to me with Relativity questions and I would have to say, ‘I will get that answer and get back to you,’ but now I actually know some of the answers.”
In addition to the Relativity administrative training class, Bierwirth also received a free pass to Relativity Fest and the ability to take the RCU (Relativity Certified User) exam. This was Bierwirth’s first Relativity Fest. “Going to Fest was mind-blowing,” exclaims Bierwirth. “Everyone is so energetic and invested in their product at Relativity, and their excitement is contagious.” When it came time to test his training on the RCU examination, Bierwirth came close, but did not pass. “This was my first time taking a Relativity certification test, and now I know what to expect,” says Bierwirth. “It was really interesting how many questions they give you in a short amount of time—very challenging.”
When asked for final thoughts, Bierwirth had this to say, “Anyone in my field who works with Relativity should be interested in this scholarship. I do plan to take the RCU again, and I will definitely apply for the TRU Scholarship program again and again.”
Georgetown University Cybersecurity Strategy Certificate Program, 2017 Winner
When Shawn Sprecker applied to the 2017 TRU Scholarship Program, he was only interested in one offering: the Georgetown University Cybersecurity Strategy Certificate Program. “I’ve been in e-discovery for a while looking to specifically pivot toward cybersecurity,” says Sprecker. He has spent most of his career in-house at major financial institutions like Voya and Royal Bank of Scotland. In his application essay, Sprecker stated that one of his “primary responsibilities has been bridging the intersection of the business, legal, compliance, privacy, and cybersecurity concerns within organizations which can sometimes be at odds with each other.” He hoped that the Georgetown Cybersecurity Strategy Program would help him “to [make] the business case for an effective cybersecurity strategy that works in concert with the strategy of the business.”
There were highlights and trends to the education and curriculum, notably a wealth of research. The learning material contains a deep dive on data breaches, a thorough history on the evolution of cybersecurity as a profession, and insight on the corporate breaches that have led to change in local and federal policy. Sprecker also notes the timeliness of the history and the relatability of having lived through many of these security milestones. “Content is added in real time to the lessons,” says Sprecker, as more breaches continue to make headline news.
Sprecker took all the classes online, though he could have traveled to Washington, D.C., to take some in person. “I don’t think in-person is necessary,” says Sprecker. “It would have been nice to attend a few classes, but even taking the course online I was able to make connections with professors and other students.” Sprecker also noted the diversity and credibility of the program’s professors “hailing from the Big Four as well as leading cybersecurity vendors.” Sprecker recognizes that while the program offers an extremely sophisticated and well-rounded education in cybersecurity, the opportunity to make connections with the professors is equally important. “Despite taking the course online, I still met with professors in person and had several phone conversations with them,” adds Sprecker. Professors are often hiring managers, and this should not be lost on anyone pursuing continuing education and new career paths.
The most challenging part of the program for Sprecker was the pace. “Writing five-page papers is tough,” explains Sprecker, “especially when each hits on a different area of cyber strategy.” Essays for the classes cover a wide range of study from vulnerability and risk assessment, specific tools and vendors and what each are used for traditionally, various frameworks like NIST and ISO, and, of course, a rich history of breaches and their impact on security policy and best practices. “Some of this stuff is just starting to become law now,” adds Sprecker. “Regulations are catching up to the current accepted best practices, especially at financial institutions—which is where I come from.”
At the time this article was written, Sprecker had two more classes to complete in the program. He is finishing the certification in a six-month window. “You can do it in two years, but I am doing it in six months, which is the fastest one can do it in.” When asked how this education will affect his future, Sprecker had this to say, “Working in-house at financial organizations, I had cyber experience, but completing the course will validate that experience and knowledge.” He closed by admitting that “taking the course reminded me how much I also love academia and would be open to expert or fellow positions at think tanks, several of which are performing work related to cybersecurity best practices.”
This particular scholarship will not be available in the 2018 program and has been replaced with other cyber training and education from Nuix, Paraben, and Cybint Solutions.
LitWorks, a DTI/Epiq company, Project Management Certification, Winner 2013
Of all the TRU Scholarship recipients, Fabian Menendez’s training has had the longest amount of time to germinate and lead to changes in his career. Menendez’s story is a classic one. As he stated in his 2013 application, he “was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to make the transition from an IT Helpdesk member to a Junior Litigation Support Analyst within Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz” many years ago.
Shifting from legal IT to litigation support is where many current leaders started their careers. “At the time, I vaguely knew about the e-discovery field,” adds Menendez, “but after conducting online research and talking one-on-one with the project managers in the department, I decided it would be a fantastic opportunity for me.” It was also as early as this conversation that Menendez knew one day he wanted to be more than just technical support and eventually move into project management. This was his winning final pitch in his application: “I would like to learn more about the practices that occur before the data is delivered to my desk [and further] my knowledge beyond a technological standpoint.”
Menendez attributes his LitWorks training to being the catalyst for this pivot. In the summer of 2013, Menendez attended the three-day boot camp for his LitWorks PM certification. He describes the training as “a massive amount of information” that gave him “a bigger and clearer picture of the EDRM and litigation life cycle.” He goes on to say that LitWorks “made me aware of the unknown unknowns” in his knowledge base and that until the summer of 2013, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.” Menendez adds, “I would hear words like ‘clawbacks, lit holds, spoliation,’ but didn’t really know what these things meant or how to handle situations involving these key steps.”
In addition to opening his eyes to whole new areas of the EDRM process from a project management perspective, Menendez attributes his training to steering him toward what to focus on years later in his education. “LitWorks impressed upon me the value of soft skills, building relationships with case teams, documentation and communication, and so much more,” says Menendez. “This program gave me the vision five to ten years downstream of where my ESI career could go.”
Since receiving his LitWorks PM certification in 2013, Menendez has gone on to another law firm and was recently promoted from a litigation support senior specialist to a litigation support coordinator. This transition has been five years in the making, and it all started with a LitWorks PM certification he received through TRU Staffing Partners!
The 2018 Program and You
Now more than ever certifications separate individuals from the masses when competing for jobs. It cannot be denied that getting certifications makes you more desirable to most hiring managers. Acquired skills aside, individuals who take the initiative to self-certify demonstrate the self-starter cultural dynamic that is always prized when assessing for promotion or net new hiring.
TRU’s 2018 portfolio of partners and their certification, training and education will be more expansive and voluminous than all six prior years combined. This year’s offering will include various certifications in technologies from Paraben, iCONECT, Relativity, Nuix, and EDT Software. Those offerings will delve into mobile forensic collection, legal data analytics, processing of litigation data, cyber incident response and remediation, back-end infrastructure and application domain expertise, and technical attorney review skills. Additionally, TRU welcomes Cybint Solutions to the program, which is offering a hands-on online Cybersecurity Analyst certification (CSAC), as well as legacy partners ACEDS and LitWorks, a DTI/Epiq company, which will offer multiple scholarships in each of their respective certification programs. In addition, Relativity will again be offering free passes to its annual conference, Relativity Fest.
For a full list of all offerings and to apply for 2018 click here.