The Electronic Discovery Reference Model, or just the “EDRM” for short, is a fantastic place to begin if you’re just starting to learn about ediscovery and information governance in general. The EDRM provides standards, guidelines, and practical resources for anyone seeking to undertake an ediscovery process or set up an information governance model within an organization.

The Electronic Discovery Reference Model: Components

The EDRM breaks the management of electronically stored information (ESI) into several manageable components, including:

  • Information Governance
  • Identification
  • Preservation
  • Collection
  • Processing
  • Review
  • Analysis
  • Production
  • Presentation

The Electronic Discovery Reference Model: Iteration

Each section involves one of the crucial functions of the ediscovery process. It’s important to recognize that these are not discrete steps in a one-way process. Instead, the functions are iterative. For example, you may move from the initial identification stage on to processing, only to realize that you’ve overlooked a key subset of data in your initial identification. So, you would loop back to identify, preserve, and collect that data in order to start processing anew.

The iterative nature described in the EDRM isn’t unique to ediscovery. In my previous life as a defense attorney, it was frequently the case that I would receive discovery from the Crown (the prosecutor) only to find that the initial disclosure simply led to more questions, which led to more discovery requests, which led to more disclosure, and so on.

Iterating during the ediscovery process, however, is particularly important. Often, you’ll begin the process of ediscovery knowing very little about what information is out there, what form it’s in, which location it’s in, and how to go about collecting it. Only moving through the stages of identification, collection, processing, review, and analysis will serve to inform you of where you should be looking for more and newer data.

EDRM: More Volume, Less Relevance. Less Volume, More Relevance

In the Electronic Discovery Reference Model, we’re constantly moving along a continuum, with volume at one end and relevance at the other. In other words, as we move towards our goal, we’re moving away from voluminous data and paring down the information to what’s relevant.

When we’ve completed the process, we’ll have culled (hopefully) all of the relevant material from the piles of data we initially started with. We’ll be left with a much more manageable amount of information than what we started with.

Final Thoughts

I’ve barely touched on any of the guidance provided by the Electronic Discovery Reference Model. Future articles will go into more depth on each of the several stages of the process and discuss the value you can draw, both as a custodian of ESI and a litigator in search of discovery, by following the roadmap the EDRM provides.

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