How Lawyers Can Fully Utilize the EDRM with Information Governance Best Practices

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How Lawyers Can Fully Utilize the EDRM with Information Governance Best Practices by Eric Parish

When it comes to the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), there is a commonly held belief that the “right side” (where you locate, processing, review, and production) is where legal teams accrue the most cost, and the “left side” is simply where the data is stored. Because of this conception, many organizations focus solely on ways to mitigate expense when gearing up for eDiscovery production and completely disregard the cost savings that come naturally with well-managed information governance. Why is this?

How do we make information governance less painful and less expensive for legal teams? The answer, of course, is in the source of the data.  

Eric Parish, Ricoh

A partial explanation might be that eDiscovery was traditionally known as a stand-alone process that had a thin relationship to broader data management best practices. In fact, the first draft of the EDRM began with the identification of data. Later versions included Records Management at the start – completely ignoring the many other aspects of information governance including non-record data – and it was only somewhat recently that the EDRM included a full-fledged account of what happens with information governance at the beginning of the model.

The EDRM has never been a continuum, but rather a sequence that begins with information governance and early case assessment (ECA) and ends with presentation. Logic dictates that if your organization doesn’t have a sound beginning to their eDiscovery process, then the end components will be adversely affected. With the newest iteration of the model in mind, the one that begins with sound information governance practices, it is more obvious that the beginning – or the “left side” – isn’t simply where the data is stored. 

At Ricoh, we want to ensure that we have the entire sequence of eDiscovery covered for our legal clients with services and solutions that enhance and streamline the process. As such, we have asked ourselves important questions like: how do we make information governance less painful and less expensive for legal teams? The answer, of course, is in the source of the data.  

If your organization’s data is “clean”, without duplicates and ROT (redundant, obsolete, trivial) while stored in an efficient manner with proper retention protocols, you will have less data overall and, correspondingly, less data to traverse the EDRM. With reduced data, you have reduced cost.

For instance, review is the most expensive aspect of litigation accounting for roughly 70% of spend on a matter.  If you have clean data, reviewers do not spend time reviewing garbage like notification emails stating that the 3rd floor kitchenette will be closed on May 24, 2019, for repairs. No ROT means a more effective review with only potentially relevant documents.

An additional way to make eDiscovery less painful is to provide legal the ability to find data, wherever it might reside whenever they desire.  File analysis tools can allow one user to search multiple repositories simultaneously from one screen which eliminates the need to hop from application to application to perform each search.  Plus, file analysis tools give autonomy to the legal department as they can be utilized without needing assistance from the business unit or IT.  Cutting this dependence vastly speeds up the process and foster better relations between IT and legal.

Taking a step back and considering expert studies and client experiences, we established cost savings that are incredible when organizations have a granular data map specifying data location and attributes while defensibly limiting data flows from them to the eDiscovery service provider or outside counsel.  

We recommend organizations establish information governance best practices that will help them realize those savings and if the resources aren’t available in-house, look at engaging with a consultant. Note: that the savings in legal costs alone can fund an entire information governance program. 

For more information, take our Information Governance Quick Assessment Survey or get in touch today. 

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Eric Parish

Eric Parish is an Information Governance (IGP) & Certified eDiscovery Specialist (CEDS) with Ricoh. He received his B.S. Biology from Purdue University and his JD from the University of Tulsa. He is also a former practicing attorney. Eric has presented CLE accredited programs to numerous law firms and organizations around the country.

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