EDRM - Electronic Discovery Reference Model

eDiscovery and the EDRM is outlined below in more detail.  We supply staff from collection to production and a number of skill-sets that work alongside Digital Forensic & eDiscovery teams.


Introduction to eDiscovery

  • Electronic discovery (eDiscovery, eDisclosure) refers to discovery in civil litigation or government investigations which deals with the exchange of information in electronic format (often referred to as electronically stored information or ESI). These data are subject to local rules and agreed-upon processes, and are often reviewed for privilege and relevance before being turned over to opposing counsel. 
  • Data are identified as potentially relevant by attorneys/lawyers and placed on legal hold. Evidence is then extracted and analysed using digital forensic procedures, and is reviewed using a document review platform.   Documents can be reviewed either as native files or after a conversion to PDF or TIFF form. A document review platform is useful for its ability to aggregate and search large quantities of ESI.
  • Electronic information is considered different from paper information because of its intangible form, volume, transience and persistence. Electronic information is usually accompanied by metadata that is not found in paper documents and that can play an important part as evidence (for example the date and time a document was written could be useful in a copyright case). The preservation of metadata from electronic documents creates special challenges to prevent spoliation.  Data could be held on various dead box appliances (Desktops, laptops, mobiles etc.) or enterprise wide systems (ERP systems, global email systems etc.);  or even social media sites…

Stages of process (EDRM)

The identification phase is when potentially responsive documents are identified for further analysis and review. Custodians who are in possession of potentially relevant information or documents are identified. To ensure a complete identification of data sources, data mapping techniques are often employed. Since the scope of data can be overwhelming in this phase, attempts are made to reduce the overall scope during this phase - such as limiting the identification of documents to a certain date range or search term(s) to avoid an overly burdensome request.

Preservation (Data Preservation)
During preservation, data identified as potentially relevant is placed in a legal hold. This ensures that data cannot be destroyed. Care is taken to ensure this process is defensible, while the end-goal is to reduce the possibility of data spoliation or destruction.

Collection (Data Collection)
Once documents have been preserved, collection can begin. Collection is the transfer of data from a company to their legal counsel, who will determine relevance and disposition of data. Some companies that deal with frequent litigation have software in place to quickly place legal holds on certain custodians when an event (such as legal notice) is triggered and begin the collection process immediately. Other companies may need to call in a digital forensics expert to prevent the spoliation of data. The size and scale of this collection is determined by the identification phase. Popular tools to collect data include EnCase, FTK etc.

Processing (Data Processing)
During the processing phase, native files are prepared to be loaded into a document review platform. Often, this phase also involves the extraction of text and metadata from the native files. Various data culling techniques are employed during this phase, such as deduplication and de-NISTing. Sometimes native files will be converted to a petrified, paper-like format (such as PDF or TIFF) at this stage, to allow for easier redaction and bates-labelling.

Modern processing tools can also employ advanced analytic tools to help document review attorneys more accurately identify potentially relevant documents. A popular tool for Data processing is Nuix but it can be completed in Relativity and other tools as providers seek to offer more of the EDRM within one tool.

Review (Document Review)
During the review phase, documents are reviewed for responsiveness to discovery requests and for privilege. Different document review platforms can assist in many tasks related to this process, including the rapid identification of potentially relevant documents, and the culling of documents according to various criteria (such as keyword, date range, etc.). Most review tools also make it easy for large groups of document review attorneys to work on cases, featuring collaborative tools and batches to speed up the review process and eliminate work duplication. Popular tools include Relativity (probably the market leader) offering numerous certification e.g. RCA (Relativity Certified Administrator), Relativity Analytics etc. and ultimately Relativity Master is achievable.

Documents are turned over to opposing counsel, based on agreed-upon specifications. Often this production is accompanied by a load file, which is used to load documents into a document review platform. Documents can be produced either as native files, or in a petrified format (such as PDF or TIFF), alongside metadata.dits

Types of ESI (Electronically Stored Information)
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Reporting formats
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Common issues
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Emerging trends
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