The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) is a framework that outlines standards for the recovery and discovery of digital data. An EDRM diagram created by Duke Law (https://www.edrm.net/frameworks-and-standards/edrm-model/) represents a conceptual view of the e-discovery process, which is not a linear process, necessarily. In fact, you may engage in some, but not all of the steps identified in the diagram. Or, you may engage the process in an order different than outlined in the diagram. The steps in the process include: information governance, identification, preservation, collection, processing, review, analysis, production, and presentation.
What exactly these steps entail is briefly set forth below:
- Information governance – involves organizing and maintaining (or disposing of) your electronic data in a way that risks and expenses are mitigated should a dispute, investigation or litigation arise (i.e., data retention policies).
- Identification – this step involves locating potential sources of ESI.
- Preservation – simply stated, preservation means taking those steps necessary to ensure that potentially relevant ESI is protected from alteration or destruction.
- Collection – involves gathering the ESI that may be potentially relevant for purposes of reviewing, and maybe producing, same during the discovery process.
- Processing – is a technical step in the process that involves converting the collected ESI to a format that can be reviewed and analyzed.
- Review/Analysis – once the ESI is collected and processed, the data is promoted for review so that attorneys can evaluate the data for relevance and privilege.
- Production – the provision of relevant, non-privileged ESI to your adversary (or the investigating body) during discovery.
- Presentation – is the final step of displaying ESI to another (jury, judge, or expert) in the form of a demonstrable for the purpose of eliciting additional information or persuading an audience.
Experts in the field opine the diagram is intended as a basis for discussion and analysis, not as a prescription for the only way to approach e-discovery.