While most people in the e-discovery industry have heard of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), many think it is simply a chart that describes the stages of the e-discovery process. However, the EDRM is more than a bunch of boxes; it is an organization that drafts and makes available practical information to help everyone who works within the e-discovery space. Members of EDRM represent a diversity of professions that touch discovery in a variety of ways. There are services providers, software companies, IT professionals, litigation support professionals, law firm attorneys and corporate counsel who all bring their breadth of experience to the table. Having a diverse membership allows for interesting and wide-ranging discussion, and provides the expertise necessary to create meaningful guidelines and protocols that run the gamut, from information governance to industry metrics – and all participate with the sole purpose of improving our industry.
The goal of the EDRM is to develop new reference models, best practices and practical standards for the public domain. The organization continually strives to provide better information for each stage in the model, from Information Management through Presentation. To do this, the group is organized into a series of Projects in which industry leaders in that area work to create protocols and metrics.
The following Projects are currently being tackled by the EDRM:
- The Information Governance Reference Model (IGRM) Project aims to offer guidance to Legal, IT, Records, Privacy and Security, line-of-business leaders and other business stakeholders within organizations. The IGRM provides a common language and a reference chart to facilitate the conversations among these stakeholders to support better decision-making regarding their information governance policies. The IGRM recently published Version 3.0 of their model, which was presented at ARMA International’s 57th Annual Conference & Expo and the IAPP Privacy Academy 2012.
- The EDRM Data Set Project aims to create standardized “big data” sets of electronically stored information (ESI) for testing purposes. It will support evaluation of processing accuracy, speed and other metrics for vendor comparison and other uses. The Project is now finalizing an upload utility designed to collect a broad sampling of user-generated, copyright-free files that are representative of the type of files currently encountered in data processing and put them in the public domain for testing.
- The EDRM Evergreen Project works to ensure that the Electronic Discovery Reference Model remains current, practical and relevant, and creates educational resources to effectively teach all aspects of e-discovery. The reality of litigation today is that effective ESI analysis wins cases, so this project aims to provide sufficient education for lawyers to become comfortable with the technology. Lawyers, vendors and technicians all need to work together to win cases, and Evergreen seeks to enhance understanding of these key relationships.
- The Jobs Project is developing a framework for evaluating discovery personnel needs or issues. Typically, individuals in charge of hiring personnel in the e-discovery space have little or no practical experience, so the goal of this Project is to create a tool to help hiring managers better understand the responsibilities associated with common e-discovery roles. Currently, the Project offers a draft matrix which maps responsibilities to the EDRM framework so duties associated with e-discovery processes can be assigned to appropriate parties.
- The EDRM Metrics Project seeks to provide an effective means of measuring the time, money and volumes associated with e-discovery activities. This group creates tracking and reporting protocols to assess and analyze “big data.” The Metrics Project is currently refining the EDRM Metrics Database, which is an anonymous set of e-discovery processing metrics from actual matters. The goal of this work is to allow vendors and law firms to anonymously submit data to the system for analysis.
- The EDRM Search Project provides a framework for defining and managing various aspects of Search as applied to an e-discovery workflow. There are several search techniques available for collecting, culling, filtering, locating and classifying electronically stored information. The Search Project works to specify specific types of Search, their behavior and expected results to address the challenges of uncertainty and incompleteness. Currently the Search group is developing a model called the Computer Assisted Review Reference Model (CARRM). The goal of the CARRM is to demystify the predictive coding process and to allow for a common communication platform between vendors and end users at each phase of the computer assisted review process.
- The Model Code of Conduct Project has recently published the EDRM Model Code of Conduct (MCoC), which establishes ethical guidelines for business conduct between the providers of electronic discovery services, software and other products, their clients and other providers. The code reflects years of exhaustive dialogue and a wide array of viewpoints, including those of corporations, law firms and service providers. The MCoC guidelines have already been voluntarily adopted by many organizations.
- Finally, the EDRM XML group focuses on standardizing formats for e-discovery data exchange between parties and systems, which reduces the time and risk involved with data exchange. The goal of EDRM XML is to help practitioners significantly streamline processes and enable the integration of multiple e-discovery technologies.
The key to the success of EDRM is involvement. Industry standardization is not only beneficial to the community as a whole, but an exciting process in which to participate. With so much change in technology, individuals who make the effort to keep up with cutting-edge applications and help shape evolving industry protocols contribute to their own professional development and create a foundation for continual growth and improvement within the industry. All of the EDRM Projects are actively looking for participants and offer a great opportunity to make a difference. For more information, visit http://www.edrm.net/projects.