Electronic Discovery

eDiscoveryJournal Webinar: Debate on Native Format Production and Redaction

 

eDiscoveryJournal conducted a webinar last Friday with some notable eDiscovery industry thought leaders regarding issues associated with native format production and redaction.  The panel included George Socha of Socha Consulting, LLC and co-founder of EDRM, Craig Ball of Craig D. Ball, P.C. and author of numerous articles on eDiscovery and computer forensics, and Tom O’Connor, who is a nationally known consultant, speaker and writer in the area of computerized litigation support systems.  All three panelists are nationally recognized speakers and experts on eDiscovery topics.  The panel discussion was moderated by Greg Buckles, co-founder of eDiscoveryJournal, who is also a recognized expert with over 20 years experience in discovery and consulting.

I wrote an article a few years ago on review and production of native files, so this is a subject of particular interest to me.  What follows is highlights of the discussion, based on my observations and notes from the webinar.  If anyone who attended the webinar feels that there are any inaccuracies in this account, please feel free to submit a comment to this post and I will be happy to address it.

Having said that, here are the highlights:

  • Definition of Native Files: George noted that the technical definition of native files is “in the format as used during the normal course of business”, but in the application of that concept, there is no real consensus.  Tom, who has worked on a number of multi-party cases has found consensus difficult as parties have different interpretations as to what defines native files.  Craig noted that it’s less about format than it is ensuring a “level of information parity” so that both sides have the opportunity to access the same information for those files.
  • “Near-Native” Files: George noted that there is a “quasi-native” or “near-native” format, which is still a native format, even if it isn’t in the original form.  If you have a huge SQL database, but only produce a relevant subset out of it in a smaller SQL database, that would be an example of a “near-native” format.  Individual Outlook MSG files are another example that, as Craig noted, are smaller components of the original Outlook mailbox container for which individual message metadata is preserved.
  • Position of Producing Native Files: Craig noted that the position is often to provide in a less usable format (such as TIFF images) because of attorneys’ fear that the opposition will be able to get more information out of the native files than they did.  George noted that you can expect expert fees to double or even quadruple when expecting them to work with image files as opposed to native files.
  • Negotiation and Production of Metadata: Tom noted that there is a lack of understanding by attorneys as to how metadata differs for each file format.  Craig noted that there is certain “dog tag” metadata such as file name, path, last modified date and time, custodian name and hash value, that serve as a “driver’s license” for files whereas the rest of the more esoteric metadata complete the “DNA” for each file.  George noted that the EDRM XML project is working towards facilitating standard transfer of file metadata between parties.
  • Advice on Meet and Confer Preparation: When asked by Greg what factor is most important when preparing for meet and confer, Craig said it depends partly on whether you’re the primary producing or requesting party in the case.  Some people prefer “dumbed down” images, so it’s important to know what format you can handle, the issues in the case and cost considerations, of course.  George noted that there is little or no attention on how the files are going to be used later in the case at depositions and trial and that it’s important to think about how you plan to use the files in presentation and work backward.  Tom noted it’s really important to understand your collection as completely as possible and ask questions such as: What do you have?  How much?  What formats?  Where does it reside?  Tom indicated that he’s astonished how difficult it is for many of his clients to answer these questions.

Want to know more?  Tune in tomorrow for the second half of the webinar!  And, as always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

State eDiscovery Rules: Oklahoma Adopts Amendments to Rules for eDiscovery

 

Though the amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in December of 2006 have affected how discovery of ESI is handled in Federal courts, lawyers who practice exclusively in state court cases may not have had to consider rules for handling of ESI in their cases.  Some states have adopted civil procedure rules for eDiscovery; others have not.

Effective today, one state that has adopted new amendments to their Rules of Civil Procedure is Oklahoma.  Reagan DeWitt-Henderson of Litgistix Business Solutions, based in Tulsa, has written a terrific article that will be published in this month’s Tulsa Lawyer that addresses the Oklahoma rules changes in detail.  To access the article online, click here.

Highlights of the changes (as discussed in the article):

  • ESI is Added to the List of Obtainable Discovery (12 O.S. § 3226).
  • Only Reasonably Accessible Data to be Produced (12 O.S. § 3226): ESI must be “reasonably accessible” or else good cause must be shown for a court order to require its production.  Parties will be required to produce ESI, assuming the ESI sought is not unreasonably cumulative or overly difficult to obtain.
  • ESI Category Added as Form of Production that Can be Specified (12 O.S. § 3234): This rule is amended specifically to list ESI as data that can be requested.  Also, the producing party must generally state the form(s) of production it intends to use, which is significant as form of production (e.g., native files or scanned images, with or without metadata) determines the extent to which the collection is searchable and whether expensive conversion is required to make it searchable.
  • Option to Produce Business Records in Lieu of Answering Interrogatories Now Includes ESI (12 O.S. § 3233): However, a producing party may have to provide proprietary software or technical support to make the ESI useable to the other side or provide the ESI in a format that does not require proprietary software, or uses a free reader like Adobe Acrobat.
  • Must Address ESI in Mandatory Meet & Confer (12 O.S. § 3226): Lawyers must confer to address discovery issues, including issues related to ESI, but reporting to the judge is optional, unless so ordered.
  • “Clawback” of Confidential & Privilege Information After Unintentional Production (12 O.S. § 3226): "Clawback" of potentially privileged/confidential information is now supported, assuming the reasonable steps must have been taken to prevent the production of this material.
  • Third Party Subpoenas (12 O.S. § 2004.1): Many of the same provisions added also apply to third party subpoenas, including production of ESI, form of production and “clawback” of inadvertent productions.
  • Protection from Sanctions for Document Destruction from Good Faith Procedures (12 O.S. § 3237): Addresses the “safe harbor” provision for not providing ESI lost as a result of the routine, good-faith operation of systems but requires implementation of a “litigation hold” when the duty to preserve arises which may include suspending such operations.

Thanks to Reagan and our friends at Litgistix for such a comprehensive article about the Oklahoma rules changes!  Over the next several weeks, we will look at other states that have adopted similar rules and status of states that have not yet done so.

So, what do you think?  Wondering where your state stands?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Sanctions and Other Things that Go Bump in the Night

Sunday is Halloween, so it seems appropriate to try to “scare” you before the big day.  Does this scare you?

“pervasive and willful violation of serial Court orders to preserve and produce ESI evidence be treated as contempt of court, and that he be imprisoned for a period not to exceed two years, unless and until he pays to Plaintiff the attorney’s fees and costs that will be awarded to Plaintiff as the prevailing party”

What about this?

“From this Court’s perspective, a monetary sanction of $150,000 should be sufficient to compensate Plaintiffs for their added expense and deter SanDisk from taking shortcuts.”

Or this?

“For his misconduct, Peal has already received a severe sanction in having his complaint dismissed with prejudice.”

How about this?

A party does not need formal notice to know that spoliation of evidence and misrepresentations may lead to dismissal.”

Scary, huh?  If the possibility of sanctions keep you awake at night, then the folks at eDiscovery Daily will do our best to provide useful information and best practices to enable you to relax and sleep soundly, even on Halloween!

Of course, if you really want to get into the spirit of Halloween, click here.

What do you think?  Is there a particular eDiscovery issue that scares you?  Please share your comments and let us know if you’d like more information on a particular topic.

Happy Halloween!

eDiscovery Project Management: Finding the Right People for Your Team

Yesterday, we talked about the skill sets and areas of expertise that are required to effectively handle an electronic discovery project.  Those skills and expertise are diverse and you won’t find everything you need in a single person.  You need to put together a team.  So, where do you find the right people for your team?    Most likely your team can be made up of individuals from these sources:

Law Firm Personnel

  • Partners, associates and paralegals working on the case will have knowledge of the facts at issue and the strategy for using documents.  They will know what documents are responsive, privileged, significant, helpful and harmful.  They will also have knowledge of the litigation process and the rules of civil procedure.  Paralegals are also likely to have a very good handle on the document collection as the case moves forward.
  • Law firm litigation/practice support and technical staff will have knowledge of the electronic discovery process, electronic discovery tools and electronic discovery service providers.  They also may have skills in collecting forensically sound data.  And, litigation support professionals will have project management skills.

Client Personnel

  • Members of the corporate legal department will have knowledge of the issues in the case, the case strategy and goals, the documents, and the business operations and key characters at issue.
  • Corporate IT and records management personnel will have knowledge of the computer systems in use at the client’s offices, knowledge of document retention, computer use, backup and disaster recovery policies and practices, and how and where documents are stored and accessed.
  • Client personnel who are familiar with the business units, facts and events that are at issue in the case, and the relevant documents that are likely to exist.

External Resources

Depending on what tasks need to be done and on what computing resources /expertise you require, you may need to add electronic discovery consultants, service providers, and forensics experts to your team.  You may not need to involve them right away.  You might get the rest of the team in place and have the team determine what external resources are needed.  If, however, you are inexperienced with electronic discovery, involving a consultant early can be invaluable.

What do you think?  Who do you include on your electronic discovery teams?  Please share your comments and let us know if you’d like more information on a particular topic.

eDiscovery Project Management: Assemble the Right Team

 

There are lots of tasks associated with a large electronic discovery project.  A number of skill sets and areas of expertise are required to do them all well.  It’s not likely that all of those skills and knowledge will reside in a single person.  You need to create the right electronic discovery team to ensure that there are no glitches.

Under a common case scenario that involves collecting electronic discovery, processing, analyzing/culling, review, and production, you should have all of these areas covered:

  • Knowledge of electronic discovery:  Knowledge of the process, technology tools, and service providers.
  • Technical knowledge and skills:  Skills in collecting forensically sound and defensible data and knowledge of your client’s technology systems and practices.
  • Knowledge of your client’s document policies and practices:  Knowledge of document retention policies and practices and knowledge of what types of files exist and how and where they are stored and accessed.
  • Knowledge of the facts at issue in the case, and the strategy for using documents in the case:  You need someone who can make decisions on what document content is responsive, privileged, significant, helpful, and harmful.
  • Familiarity with the cast of characters and knowledge of who is likely to have documents and knowledge about what.
  • Knowledge of the litigation process and the rules of civil procedure that apply to electronic discovery.
  • Expertise in search technology, techniques and strategies.
  • Project management skills and experience.

It is critical that a project manager is identified early on.  There are lots of steps in the process that will require continuous oversight and monitoring.  The project manager will be responsible for creating project plans, creating budgets and schedules, identifying required resources, ensuring that decisions are made by the right people, ensuring that deadlines are met, and so on.  On a case with a large electronic discovery collection and a short schedule, this is a full-time job.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about what types of people are likely to have the right skill sets, and then we’ll move on to assembling the right team for a specific task that requires significant numbers of people.

What do you think?  Who do you include on your electronic discovery teams?  Please share your comments and let us know if you’d like more information on a particular topic.

Thought Leader Q&A: Brad Jenkins of Trial Solutions

 

Tell me about your company and the products you represent. Trial Solutions is an electronic discovery software and services company in Houston, Texas that assists corporations and law firms in the collection, processing and review of electronic data. Trial Solutions developed OnDemand™, formerly known as ImageDepot™, an online e-discovery review application which is currently used by over fifty of the top 250 law firms including seven of the top ten.  Trial Solutions also offers FirstPass™, an early case assessment and first-pass review application.  Both applications are offered as a software-as-a-service (SaaS), where Trial Solutions licenses the applications to customers for use and provides access via the Internet. Trial Solutions provides litigation support services in over 90 metropolitan areas throughout the United States and Canada.

What do you see as emerging trends for eDiscovery SaaS solutions?  I believe that one emerging trend that you’ll see is simplified pricing.  Pricing for many eDiscovery SaaS solutions is too complex and difficult for clients to understand.  Many providers base pricing on a combination of collection size and number of users (among other factors) which is confusing and penalizes organizations for adding users into a case,  I believe that organizations will expect simpler pricing models from providers with the ability to add an unlimited number of users to each case.

Another trend I expect to see is provision of more self-service capabilities giving legal teams greater control over managing their own databases and cases.  Organizations need the ability to administer their own databases, add users and maintain their rights without having to rely on the hosting provider to provide these services.  A major self-service capability is the ability to load your own data on your schedule without having to pay load fees to the hosting provider.

Why do you think that more eDiscovery SaaS solutions don’t provide a free self loading capability?  I don’t know.  Many SaaS solutions outside of eDiscovery enable you to upload your own data to use and share via the Web.  Facebook and YouTube enable you to upload and share pictures and videos, Google Docs is designed for sharing and maintaining business documents, and even SalesForce.com allows you to upload contacts via a comma-separated values (CSV) file.  So, loading your own data is not a new concept for SaaS solutions.  OnDemand™ is about to roll out a new SelfLoader™ module to enable clients to load their own data, for free.  With SelfLoader, clients can load their own images, OCR text files, native files and metadata to an existing OnDemand database using an industry-standard load file (IPRO’s .lfp or Concordance’s .opt) format.

Are there any other trends that you see in the industry?  One clear trend is the rising popularity in first pass review/early case assessment (or, early data assessment, as some prefer) solutions like FirstPass as corporate data proliferates at an amazing pace.  According to International Data Corporation (IDC), the amount of digital information created, captured and replicated in the world as of 2006 was 161 exabytes or 161 billion gigabytes and that is expected to rise more than six-fold by 2010 (to 988 exabytes)!  That’s enough data for a stack of books from the sun to Pluto and back again!  With more data than ever to review, attorneys will have to turn to applications to enable them to quickly cull the data to a manageable level for review – it will simply be impossible to review the entire collection in a cost-efficient and timely manner.  It will also be important for there to be a seamless transition from first pass review for culling collections to attorney linear review for final determination of relevancy and privilege and Trial Solutions provides a fully integrated approach with FirstPass and OnDemand.

About Brad Jenkins
Brad Jenkins, President and CEO of Trial Solutions, has over 20 years of experience leading customer focused companies in the litigation support arena. Brad has authored many articles on litigation support issues, and has spoken before national audiences on document management practices and solutions.

Thought Leader Q&A: Kirke Snyder

 

Tell me about yourself and your experience.  I am a professor of law and ethics at Regis University College for Professional Studies in Denver, Colorado. The opinions expressed in this article are mine and are based upon my 25 years of experience consulting with public and private organizations.

Why is records management so important within the scope of eDiscovery?  Records Management is a sub-set of an organization’s overall information management. Take a look at the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM). Information management is on the far left-hand side of the model. An effective records/information management program is the most effective way for a company to reduce the volume of data that will become snagged in litigation hold, collection, production, and attorney review.

What are the most important concerns about corporate records and information management?  Organizations should be concerned about managing their corporate records for two main reasons: (1) the risk associated with regulatory compliance and litigation hold requirements, and (2) the cost of reviewing data to identify potentially relevant documents associated with litigation or an investigation.

What are the main risks associated with regulatory compliance and litigation hold requirements?  There are thousands of recordkeeping laws and regulations. A sound corporate records and information (RIM) program must be based upon legal research that identifies the applicable regulatory requirements (federal, state, and industry specific). Retention or destruction requirements apply to commonly encountered corporate records, such as job applications, employee medical records, and tax returns, as well as to the distinctive recorded information associated with specific industries, such as banking, insurance, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, energy, and telecommunications. Further, certain business records are subject to privacy legislation and regulations that protect personal information from unauthorized disclosure or use. Examples of U.S. laws with such privacy provisions include the Fair Credit Reporting Act (1992), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (1996), and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (1999).

In addition to retaining corporate information to support a regulatory requirement, organizations must hold information that may be potentially relevant to litigation or an investigation. As a matter of fact, it is illegal for any organization to knowingly and intentionally destroy records relevant to pending or ongoing litigation or government investigations, even though their document management policies would otherwise permit such destruction. For public companies, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 includes additional recordkeeping provisions and mandated retention requirements for certain types of records. It also criminalizes and provides severe penalties for executives and employees who obstruct justice by destroying or tampering with corporate accounting records. Most notably, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act created a new federal crime for the destruction, mutilation, or alteration of corporate records with the intent to impede or influence a government investigation or other official proceeding, either “in relation to or in contemplation of any such matter or case.” This provision expands upon previous laws relating to the destruction of records with presumed intent to obstruct justice.

How do you justify the cost of a good records management and information program?  With regards to litigation, size does matter. The cost of the litigation discovery process has a direct correlation to the volume of potentially relevant documents related to the matter. The smaller the population of potentially relevant data, the lower the costs will be from vendors to process the data into a searchable database and the lower the fees will be from outside counsel to review each email or document. Most organizations do not have an automated means to identify, collect, and preserve electronically stored information (ESI) based upon search criteria (key words, document type, document date or author). We hear the terminology megabyte, gigabyte, and terabyte used with regards to storage capacity of network servers, computer hard drives, and even portable “thumb drives.” To cost justify a budget for a new records/information management program, it’s important to convert the MB’s, GB’s. and TB’s into something to which management can relate. One megabyte of user documents is approximately one ream of paper. One ream of paper wouldn’t take the lawyers too long to review. However, one gigabyte of user documents if printed would be the approximate length of a basketball court and would require a team of lawyers to review. One terabyte of user documents if printed would be the approximate length of Long Island. It’s easy to see the economic and strategic advantage for an organization to be able to identify the smallest legally defensible data population (without duplicates) prior to handing over the data to vendors for processing or outside counsel for review.

About Kirke Snyder

Kirke has earned a law degree and also a masters degree in legal administration. He is an expert in document retention and litigation electronic discovery issues. He can be reached at KSnyder@Regis.edu.

Thought Leader Q&A: Chris Jurkiewicz of Venio Systems

 

Tell me about your company and the products you represent.  Venio Systems is an Electronic Discovery software solution provider specializing in early case assessment and first pass review.  Our product, Venio FPR™, allows forensic units, attorneys and litigation support teams to process, analyze, search, report, interact with and export responsive data for linear review or production.

What do you consider to be the reason for the enormous growth of early case assessment/first pass review tools in the industry?  I believe much of the growth we’ve seen in the past few years can be attributed to many factors, of which the primary one is the exponential growth of data within an organization.  The inexpensive cost of data storage available to an organization is making it easier for them to keep unnecessary data on their systems.  Companies who practice litigation and/or work with litigative data are seeking out quick and cost effective methods of funneling the necessary data from all the unnecessary data stored in these vast systems thereby making early case assessment/first pass review tools not only appealing but necessary.

Are there other areas where first pass review tools can be useful during eDiscovery?  Clients have found creative ways in using first pass review/ECA technology; recently a client utilized it to analyze a recent production received by opposing counsel. They were able to determine that the email information produced was not complete.  They were then able to force the opposing counsel to fill in the missing email gaps.

There have been several key cases related to search defensibility in the past couple of years.  How will those decisions affect organizations’ approach to ESI searching?  More organizations will have to adopt a defensible process for searching and use tools that support that process.  Venio’s software has many key features focused on search defensibility including: Search List Analysis, Wild Card Variation searching, Search Audit Reporting and Fuzzy Searching.  All searches run in Venio FPR™ are audited by user, date and time, terms, scope, and frequency.  By using these tools, clients have been able to find additional responsive files that would be otherwise missed and easily document their search approach and refinement.

How do you think the explosion of data and technology will affect the review process in the future?  I believe that technology will continue to evolve and provide innovative tools to allow for more efficient reviews of ESI.  In the past few years the industry has already seen several new technologies released such as near deduping, concept searching and clustering which have significantly improved the speed of the review.  Legal teams will have to continue to make greater utilization of these technologies to provide efficient and cost-effective review as their clients will demand it.

About Chris Jurkiewicz
Chris graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia.  He began working for On-Site Sourcing while still an intern at Marymount and became the youngest Director on On-Site’s management team within three years as the Director of their Electronic Data Discovery Division.  In 2009, Chris co-founded Venio Systems to fill a void in Early Case Assessment (ECA) technology with Venio FPR™ to provide law firms, corporations and government entities the ability to gain a comprehensive picture of their data set at the front-end; thereby, saving precious time and money on the back-end..  Chris is an industry recognized expert in the field of eDiscovery, having spoken on several eDiscovery panels and served as an eDiscovery expert witness.

Thought Leader Q&A: Alon Israely of BIA

 

Tell me about your company and the products you represent.  BIA is a full solution E-Discovery provider. Our core competencies are around E-Discovery Collections and Processing, but we offer the full spectrum of services around E-Discovery.   For almost a decade, BIA has been developing and implementing defensible, technology driven solutions that reduce the costs and risks related to litigation, regulatory compliance and internal audits.  BIA provides software and services to Fortune 1000, Global 2000 companies and Am Law 100 law firms. We are headquartered in New York City, and have offices in San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC and in Southwest Michigan. We also maintain digital evidence response units throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

BIA’s products are defensible and cost effective, offering defensible remote collections with DiscoveryBOT™, fast e-discovery processing with our TD Grid system and automated and secure legal hold software with Solis™.  For more about BIA’s product, click here.

What is the best way for lawyers and litigation support professionals to take control of their eDiscovery?  The best way for litigation support professionals to take control of their e-discovery is to scope projects correctly.  It is important to understand that not one size fits all in e-discovery.  That is, there are many tools and service providers out there – it is important to focus (at the beginning) on what needs to be accomplished from a legal and IT perspective first and then to determine which technologies and methods fit that strategy best. 

What is a good way to achieve predictability in eDiscovery costs?  Most of the cost analysis that exists in e-discovery today is focused on the Review side, where the data has already been collected and perhaps culled. Yet, there are still too many documents, where most of the documents are not responsive. With a focus on the left side of the EDRM, e-discovery costs are visible early on in the process.  For example, using a good (light-touch) collection tool and method to lock data down is one of the best ways to control e-discovery costs – that is, doing the right collection early-on and getting the right metrics from those collections, allow you to analyze that data (even at a high-level without incurring processing and other costs) which can then help can help the attorneys and the institutional client determine costs early in the process, and in a more predictable manner.

Is there a way to perform self collection in a defensible manner?  Yes.  Use the right tools and methods and importantly, have those tools and methods vetted (reviewed and approved) by e-discovery collection professionals.  Defensible self-collections do NOT mean that the custodian or the IT people are left to perform the collection on their own without the right plan behind them.  There are best-practices that should be followed and there are some tools that maintain the integrity of the data.  Make sure that those best practices and tools are used (having been scoped correctly – see response above) by professionals or at least used by staff and peer-reviewed or monitored by professionals.  Also, rely on custodians for good ESI identification – that is, the custodians (users) usually know better than anyone where they maintain records – so, using custodian questionnaires early-on will help inform those systems which will be most relevant – which goes to diligence (an important factor in defensible collections).  Also then the professional can work in tandem with the custodian to gather the data in a manner which will ensure the evidentiary integrity of the data.  At BIA we have been following those methods for years and have been very successful with our clients, the Courts and Opposing parties, at defending those ways of identifying and collecting ESI.

What is the importance of the left side of the EDRM model?  The left side is where it all starts with e-discovery – that is, ESI collections are usually the most affordable parts of the overall e-discovery process and are arguably the most important – that is, “garbage in/garbage-out.”  Because the subsequent parts of the e-discovery process (i.e., the “right-side of the EDRM”) rely on the data identified and gathered in the early parts of the process, it is imperative that those tasks and activities performed for the “left side of EDRM” are done in the correct manner – that is, maintaining the evidentiary integrity of the data collected.  Also, the left side of the EDRM includes preserving data and notifying custodians of their obligations to preserve – which is a piece critical to defensible e-discovery – especially in light of Pension Committee and some other recent cases.  As for the money piece, the left side of the EDRM is an area where much of the planning can occur for the rest of the process without incurring substantial costs – that planning goes a long way to ascertaining the real costs and timing with respect to the remainder of the e-discovery process.

About Alon Israely

Alon Israely has over fifteen years of experience in a variety of advanced computing-related technologies. Alon is a Senior Advisor in BIA’s Advisory Services group and currently oversees BIA’s product development for its core technology products. Prior to BIA, Alon consulted with law firms and their clients on a variety of technology issues, including expert witness services related to computer forensics, digital evidence management and data security. Prior to that, he was a senior member of several IT teams working on projects for Fortune 500 companies related to global network architecture and data migrations projects for enterprise information systems. As a pioneer in the field of digital evidence collection and handling, Alon has worked on a wide variety of matters, including several notable financial fraud cases; large-scale multi-party international lawsuits; and corporate matters involving the SEC, FTC, and international regulatory boards.  Alon holds a B.A. from UCLA and received his J.D. from New York Law School with an emphasis in Telecommunications Law. He is a member of the New York State Bar as well as several legal and computer forensic associations.

Reporting from the EDRM Mid-Year Meeting

 

Launched in May 2005, the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) Project was created to address the lack of standards and guidelines in the electronic discovery market.  Now, in its sixth year of operation, EDRM has become the gold standard for…well…standards in eDiscovery.  Most references to the eDiscovery industry these days refer to the EDRM model as a representation of the eDiscovery life cycle.

At the first meeting in May 2005, there were 35 attendees, according to Tom Gelbmann of Gelbmann & Associates, co-founder of EDRM along with George Socha of Socha Consulting LLC.  Check out the preliminary first draft of the EDRM diagram – it has evolved a bit!  Most participants were eDiscovery providers and, according to Gelbmann, they asked “Do you really expect us all to work together?”  The answer was “yes”, and the question hasn’t been asked again.  Today, there are over 300 members from 81 participating organizations including eDiscovery providers, law firms and corporations (as well as some individual participants).

This week, the EDRM Mid-Year meeting is taking place in St. Paul, MN.  Twice a year, in May and October, eDiscovery professionals who are EDRM members meet to continue the process of working together on various standards projects.  EDRM has eight currently active projects, as follows:

  • Data Set: provides industry-standard, reference data sets of electronically stored information (ESI) and software files that can be used to test various aspects of eDiscovery software and services,
  • Evergreen: ensures that EDRM remains current, practical and relevant and educates about how to make effective use of the Model,
  • Information Management Reference Model (IMRM): provides a common, practical, flexible framework to help organizations develop and implement effective and actionable information management programs,
  • Jobs: develops a framework for evaluating pre-discovery and discovery personnel needs or issues,
  • Metrics: provides an effective means of measuring the time, money and volumes associated with eDiscovery activities,
  • Model Code of Conduct: evaluates and defines acceptable boundaries of ethical business practices within the eDiscovery service industry,
  • Search: provides a framework for defining and managing various aspects of Search as applied to eDiscovery workflow,
  • XML: provides a standard format for e-discovery data exchange between parties and systems, reducing the time and risk involved with data exchange.

This is my fourth year participating in the EDRM Metrics project and it has been exciting to see several accomplishments made by the group, including creation of a code schema for measuring activities across the EDRM phases, glossary definitions of those codes and tools to track early data assessment, collection and review activities.  Today, we made significant progress in developing survey questions designed to gather and provide typical metrics experienced by eDiscovery legal teams in today’s environment.

So, what do you think?  Has EDRM impacted how you manage eDiscovery?  If so, how?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.