What is the EDRM? Electronic Discovery Reference Model

Posted by Jeremy Greer | Thu, Apr 23, 2020


What is the EDRM (Electronic Discovery Reference Model)? EDRM Definition

The EDRM (Electronic Discovery Reference Model) is an eDiscovery workflow and framework that the legal and IT fields accept as broad outline for the steps to consider throughout the eDiscovery lifecycle in the United States. The EDRM model has been around since 2005, and has stood the test of time.

The electronic discovery reference model was originally designed by George Socha and Tom Gelbmann. They transferred ownership to Duke University Law School and the diagram is now owned by Mary Mack and Kaylee Walstad (previously at ACEDs). More information on this useful diagram can be found on edrm.net.

This discovery model is not necessarily designed to be a linear and static workflow. E discovery processes are dynamic, and steps can be completed in any order, with the option of coming back to earlier stages as needed. The Digital WarRoom eDiscovery checklist manifesto also provides a useful wheel shaped diagram which supplements the electronic discovery reference model by emphasizing the dynamic nature of litigation and eDiscovery workflows.


EDRM Nine Stages


Information Governance: As a company, department or individual user, consider data management practices such as archive/delete policies which may alleviate document volume and overall burden in the event of a subpoena or electronic discovery request. For example, consider deleting email that is more than 5 years old (so long that there is no outstanding or foreseeable request)


Identification: Interview the client to gather proper content and context. Create a list of custodians who may have access to potentially relevant information. Go forward with interviews of these individual custodians to gain a reasonable understanding of the target company’s data map and organization chart. All relevant documents must be disclosed and ultimately produced to the opposing party to fully meet obligations.


Preservation: Send out and ensure the acknowledgment of litigation holds to prevent spoliation of potentially relevant information. Preserving data means ensuring that all documents and metadata are stored appropriately.


Collection: Collect all potentially relevant documents in a forensically sound manner – thereby preserving all metadata and ensuring important fields are not “stepped on”. PSTs can be exported directly from native outlook. Keep an audit trail to ensure defensibility of your collection efforts.


Processing: “Upload” documents and data into an eDiscovery tool. All plain text within your documents will be indexed (or OCRed) and all metadata will be extracted for filtering. Using an eDiscovery tool has the advantage of segregating your document corpus into its own environment, fingerprinting all documents with a unique hash number, and guaranteeing that the documents are not altered.


Review: Document reviewers such as attorneys, paralegals and litigation support professionals will review all documents and apply a mark to each document to determine relevance. All relevant documents must be produced with the exception that documents can be withheld due to privilege. Also consider confidentiality of the documents by applying protective orders or redactions.


Analysis: This step is conducted continuously. Early case assessment will involve using analysis tools to develop a better understanding of the data in question. As you move forward with document review, narrow down your tools and reports to uncover trends and patterns in the data that help you meet obligations.


Production: Once all relevant documents are marked within your eDiscovery tool, choose whether to produce certain documents as imaged format or native format. From there, imaged documents will be endorsed, thereby stamping the bates number and other information onto the image. Select the metadata fields you would like to export, and wrap up your production into a special format called a load file which is used to transfer your production to another eDiscovery tool.


Presentation: The produced documents can be narrowed down to a selection of exhibits which you can submit to use as evidence in the trial.


For more information on eDiscovery, check out What is eDiscovery? or The Benefits of eDiscovery Software.


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Topics: Glossary