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Why These Chicago Instructors Teach e-Discovery to Law Students

Carlin Sack

Like any educators, Chicago-Kent College of Law adjunct professors Cinthia Motley and Adam Bottner want to arm their students with the skills they need to get ahead in the workforce. Cinthia, a partner at Sedgwick LLP, and Adam, director of business development at DTI, are particularly aware of the practical and technical skills that are quickly becoming a necessity in the legal industry. That’s why they teach Law 495: Electronic Discovery—to help students get an e-discovery education, learn what the process entails, understand how the rules of civil procedure and case law apply, and know how to make e-discovery decisions in a variety of cases.

We sat down with Cinthia and Adam at Relativity Fest to talk about their e-discovery course and their motivations for teaching it the way they do.

Carlin: Why do you teach e-discovery to your law school students?

Cinthia: I don’t see how teaching e-discovery is different from teaching civil procedure: they are both basic skills that students need to know to practice law one day. As a litigator, I know that every case is an e-discovery case, so it is important to me that people entering the industry know about e-discovery. Increasing the number of graduates who are familiar with e-discovery is essential to our industry; every law school should be teaching e-discovery to their students.

Adam: I feel that I would be neglecting my duty as a legal educator if I didn’t teach my students e-discovery because it is such an important part of law. If I weren’t teaching it, I couldn’t honestly say I'm fully showing my students the practical side of law.

What do your students think of learning e-discovery?

Cinthia: When I teach e-discovery, I am pleasantly surprised by how engaged the students are with the subject. They will stay after class and during mid-class breaks because they are so engaged. I think students realize that e-discovery knowledge is something that will stand out on their resumes during a job search and that they can significantly reduce the learning curve at their first post-graduation jobs if they gain e-discovery skills now.

How do you go about teaching e-discovery in the classroom?

Adam: We explore the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Evidence, and case law with a focus on hypothetical case scenarios. But we don’t just teach e-discovery in theory. First of all, because Cinthia has such a great litigation background, she can actually show students how she uses e-discovery in different cases. We also bring in guest speakers, such as kCura’s Rich McBride, to supplement Cinthia’s real-life stories. Rich’s demonstrations of what Relativity does really heightens students’ curiosities about the software powering this process.

Additionally, our students always say how much they love hands-on learning, so this year we will teach them how to review data in a customized database through the Relativity Academic Partner program. This type of learning is exactly what they want.

Why do you use software such as ours to teach e-discovery?

Adam: If our students already have skills in software such as Relativity, when they show up to their first jobs, their trainers won’t have to start from scratch.

Three years ago, one of our best students went on to be a project manager at DTI, heading up a team of five project managers for one of our biggest clients. She was a rock star and a lot of that could be traced back to the head start she got from her Relativity experience.

Cinthia: It’s a great example of how hands-on experience really can raise students above the rest of the market.

cinthia-motley__120x120Cinthia Motley is a partner at Sedgwick LLP, where she handles data privacy and security matters assisting clients, domestically and internationally, implement effective information security practices, including information governance and litigation readiness (e-discovery). She also has a strong background in ERISA, professional liability, and employment defense. She received her J.D. from DePaul University, Chicago, and is a member of the 7th Circuit Electronic Discovery Pilot Program.

adam-bottner__120x120Adam Bottner spent 14 years as a prosecutor with the Cook County State’s Attorney and the Illinois Attorney General, and in private practice defended clients in high-volume document review cases. Now at DTI, Adam has successfully provided guidance and support for a wide range of e-discovery projects. He is also an adjunct professor at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Carlin Sack is a former member of the marketing team at Relativity.

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