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Understanding the Electronic Discovery Reference Model

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You and your business have been given a request for production, instructing you to produce electronically stored information (ESI) for the e-discovery process. You and your team are digging through online files, looking over archived material. Minutes turn into hours, which drag on for days. You’re pouring over emails, comments on projects… but still there’s no sign of relevant ESI to produce to the party. You’re starting to stress out. What if the court believes your company intentionally is not complying with the request? What if customers learn about this? Could your business reputation be at stake?

This is a position nobody wants to be in - which is why it’s important to have an e-discovery system in place to handle situations like this should they come up. This is where the electronic discovery reference model (EDRM) comes in — an e-discovery tool that saves businesses time and money. In this article, we’ll explain exactly what it is, as well as why it’s a useful tool in your e-discovery toolbox.

What is EDRM?

Simple. Like ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library​) and NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology​), EDRM is a set of best practices and guidelines for the e-discovery process. Note that this isn’t a tangible product, but an intangible tool that streamlines company material, preserving it in a way that makes it easy to locate should the company receive a request for production.

Specifically, EDRM:

  • Has a set of standards relating to the recovery and discovery of online material
  • Gives guidance on how to collect and organize electronic data

9 Steps of EDRM

There are basic 9 steps are for EDRM. Know that you can use all of the steps, some of them, or none at all. As with many best-practice standards, use however many steps line up with your business and core values. Also, know that you do not have to follow the steps in order.

1. Information Management

In this step, businesses create a data governance process to assist in reducing the reputational and financial risks associated with the e-discovery request.

2. Identification

In this step, business owners find the ESI, and determine two things:

  • What exactly is the data?
  • How does it need to be managed?

3. Preservation

This where retention and deletion schedules come into play. These schedules help make sure that relevant ESI — data that could be requested for e-discovery — is properly stored and handled.

4. Collection

During a request for production, ESI can be easily located and presented.

5. Processing

According to Lifewire, the average office worker receives 121 emails a day. Since email is usually one of the main components in e-discovery, sifting through hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of emails for a case will take some time. To bypass this, the processing step decreases this number of relevant ESI via in-depth review and analysis. While we used email to show how much “online paperwork” businesses deal with, processing can be applied to any electronic data to satisfy the request for production.

6. Review

This step involves sifting through ESI, determining how relevant it is.

7. Analysis

Analysis is just that: analyzing the ESI. Patterns are spotted. Context is identified.

 8. Production

Relevant ESI is produced to the designated parties.

9. Presentation

The findings from the ESI in the e-discovery process are presented in the legal setting. This could be at a deposition, during a hearing, or at a trial. The point is that this information serves a legal purpose: it validates facts. It clarifies a position. It supports an alibi. It puts to question the defendant. It convinces a jury.

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What are the Benefits of EDRM?

Below are some of the benefits in applying EDRM.

1. It Wastes Less Time

With a system such as EDRM in place, you don’t have to spend hours (or days) searching for digital data.

2. Less Chance of Risking Your Business’ Reputation

By complying with the request and producing ESI within a reasonable time, your business demonstrates a high standard of quality. The courts will likely not suspect you of withholding valuable information.

3. Less Costs

If EDRM (or a similar system) isn’t up and running, you risk financial costs. You may have to pay your employees overtime in order to stay after hours to help you sift through the digital data. You may suffer from financial repercussions in the form of financial sanctions and fines should your business not be able to fork over the required documents.

4. Face a Suit of Your Own

Even if you don’t receive a request for production, other businesses or customers could sue your company. By leveraging data record system and keeping track of your records, you put yourself in a better position of protecting yourself.

Tips That’ll Make the Transition Smoother

Here are some tips that will make your transition to EDRM or a similar system smoother.

1. Set Up an E-Discovery Policy

Use steps in EDRM to create an e-discovery policy as well as a preservation and retention schedule.

2. Make It a Team Effort

Assign a handful of team members to the EDRM steps you want to incorporate. Provide them adequate training for these steps as well as the EDRM basics. Make sure they understand the company’s e-discovery policy and what role they play in it.

 3. Practice the Policy

As the cliché goes, practice makes perfect. Run mock requests for production so team members can practice the company e-discovery policy and their assigned roles. Based on the results from the mockups, you can see which parts your team members need to go over so should an actual request happen, your team is ready to go.

CBI Can Help

For cyber security solutions, CBI can help you train and incorporate EDRM into your business. Contact us for more about this — we’re happy to help. We also provide a number of cybersecurity products to better fortify your cybersecurity defenses. Feel free to check them out as well. And, while you’re at it, be sure to take a look at our blog and other free resources to learn more about the cybersecurity world.

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CBI manages IT security risk and helps ensure your data is secure, compliant and available. No matter your industry our Subject Matter Experts, tailored assessments and custom solutions help safeguard your organization’s information. Our proven process allows you to prepare, manage and navigate issues that can damage your business and reputation.