Following the 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), litigation changed dramatically. The amendments reclassified legal discovery to include electronically stored information (ESI). This officially started to formalize eDiscovery, introducing a new set of regulatory challenges for legal teams and law firms.

Since then, many legal teams have used the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) as a framework to navigate the eDiscovery process. Keep reading to learn all about the EDRM model and how it can help your legal team. 

What Is eDiscovery?

Before there was eDiscovery, there was simply discovery—or the process of collecting and managing information for use in court. 

However, the traditional discovery model is no longer comprehensive enough for today’s digital world, where more electronic information is created every day. In fact, the number of devices, applications, and connections is increasing exponentially. As such, legal teams need to have a framework for managing information and presenting digital evidence in court. 

This is where the eDiscovery process comes into play. The modern eDiscovery process involves identifying, collecting, preparing, and exchanging information. Legal teams can use it for both offensive and defensive purposes.

What Is EDRM?

The EDRM predates the 2006 FRCP amendments. The framework was first introduced in 2005 by George Socha and Tom Gelbmann, two legal professionals who set out to formalize eDiscovery standards. Socha and Gelbmann wanted to create a working model that organizations could follow to improve their outcomes.

The nine-step EDRM details each recommended stage of the eDiscovery process. Firms are not required to follow each step or complete them in any specific order. Rather, firms can use the EDRM to stay organized and manage data safely and efficiently. 

The eDiscovery process moves very quickly and legal teams often face strict deadlines. Failure to act within specific deadlines can result in court sanctions, unhappy clients, and negative reviews. Moreover, firms could face court losses, less revenue, and, potentially, a loss in the court of public opinion. 

The Stages of EDRM

Here is a breakdown of each stage in the EDRM process. 

1. Information Governance

The first stage of the process involves forming an information governance strategy. In this step, legal teams set a plan to reduce risks and costs throughout the eDiscovery journey. 

Additionally, the information governance step identifies key stakeholders. These include business users who need information to operate, IT departments who implement information management, and legal, risk, and regulatory departments that preserve information beyond immediate business value.

2. Identification 

Next, in the identification stage, legal teams execute a plan to identify ESI sources. Often, such a plan includes people and systems. 

The workflow at this stage requires developing an identification strategy and plan, establishing an identification team, identifying sources, and certifying relevant ESI sources.

3. Preservation

Legal teams need to prevent individuals from altering or destroying ESI. The preservation stage is all about risk mitigation. Here, teams develop a preservation strategy, suspend destruction, prepare a preservation plan, select a preservation method, and execute a preservation plan.

4. Collection 

After that, the next step involves collecting ESI for eDiscovery analysis in government audits, litigation suits, and internal investigations. Legal teams need to treat this process with care to avoid damaging or losing information.

In this step, the team develops a collection strategy, prepares a collection plan, selects a collection method, and executes a collection plan. 

5. Processing

Legal teams also need to process and cull data for reviewing and analysis purposes. As such, the processing stage involves assessing data, preparing data, selecting and normalizing data, validating output, and preparing output and export. 

6. Review 

Once teams process information, it goes into the review stage. At this point, the team evaluates information for relevance and privilege. The team also develops a review strategy, sets up training if needed, performs data analysis, and reviews information.

7. Analysis 

During analysis, teams check information for context. Analysts look for patterns, people, and topics. Here, the team searches for facts and performs search enhancement, review enhancement, impact analysis, and validation and quality assurance.

8. Production 

Production is all about transmitting ESI to stakeholders, using appropriate delivery methods. In this step, teams confirm the forms of production, perform data analysis, identify production requirements, prepare files, and copy files to media.

9. Presentation

The final stage of the EDRM model involves presenting information to other audiences. This can occur at depositions, at hearings, or in court. Here, the team develops a presentation strategy, selects a format, prepares and tests exhibits, presents exhibits, and stores and maintains exhibits.

Now that you’re familiar with the EDRM stages, let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of using this model.

Limitations of the EDRM

The EDRM process is by no means a complete model. In fact, it’s meant to be a list of best practices—and something that legal teams can build off of. 

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that information technology is accelerating rapidly. That being the case, firms need to remain on the cutting edge of EDRM to get the best results. 

Also, note that the model went online before the internet of things (IoT), AI, and even smartphones. And the landscape is bound to keep changing in the coming years. 

As such, teams need to constantly revisit their practices and update procedures to remain current with eDiscovery. This model is just a starting point, not a final destination.

What’s more, the original model fails to account for early case assessment (ECA) or risk assessment—both of which are critical parts of eDiscovery. 

Perhaps most importantly, EDRM attempts to enforce a rigid nine-step method on a process that is much less cut and dried. Teams should be prepared to pivot and adjust during eDiscovery to keep workflows moving and meet deadlines. 

Closing the Gaps in EDRM With Managed Services 

Firms tend to run into EDRM problems when working from outdated or incomplete EDRM models. 

The best way around this is to work with a managed provider offering EDRM services. For example, Venio Systems is a leading provider that hosts the VenioOne eDiscovery platform, a complete eDiscovery platform that offers end-to-end management.

By working with a provider like Venio Systems, teams generally don’t have to worry about going through the complex process of the EDRM and staying on top of the latest emerging trends. Instead, they can use the Venio platform, which is purpose-built for eDiscovery. Venio keeps the platform up to date and in line with the latest industry standards and best practices.

Simply put, Venio Systems makes legal eDiscovery fast, efficient, and user-friendly. It’s the most comprehensive solution on the market—and it guarantees to help legal departments move with greater agility.

Take Control of the EDRM Process With Venio Systems

Undoubtedly, technology is advancing at a rapid pace, bringing massive amounts of data into the world. Legal teams can’t afford to have inefficient or inadequate EDRM systems in place—especially when you think about how fast data is growing. 

Luckily, a platform like VenioOne can give legal teams an easy way to collect and manage information during eDiscovery. This, in turn, reduces risk and expedites workflows. Consequently, legal teams can move much faster and get better outcomes.

Are you ready to transform your legal team’s approach to EDRM by fully embracing the framework to supercharge your eDiscovery efforts? If so, get started with Venio today by requesting a free demo.

This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.