The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) is undergoing a remodel, as myriad data sources, growing ESI, and new technology is turning e-discovery into a non-linear, complex process.
[Editor’s Note: EDRM is grateful to Isha Marathe and Stephanie Wilkins of Legaltech News for permission to republish this coverage of our newest project, EDRM 2.0, first published on March 28, 2023 in Legaltech News.]
Since its launch in 2005, the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), has gone through a handful of changes. Now, Mary Mack, its CEO and chief legal technologist has decided, along with the broader e-discovery community, that it’s time for another remodel: EDRM 2.0.
With proliferating data sources from collaboration apps, cloud technology and innovations like generative AI, along with evolving international data transfer regimes, e-discovery is in a rapid evolution. And the EDRM model is currently in the process of being updated to reflect that.
Below, Mack talks to Legaltech News about the specifics of changing the EDRM model, how the process is set to be a community effort, and how EDRM is looking to leverage the newest innovations for its future.
The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
LTN: What do you mean by EDRM 2.0?
Mack: EDRM 2.0 will be the accumulated wisdom of the community as we are in our third decade now of e-discovery.
It will incorporate all of our learning with the advent of technology that we didn’t see when the model was first drawn, and then also the changes in United States federal practice. We’ve had amendments around proportionality, as well as the global impact. [Because] when the model was first drawn, it was primarily a U.S.-centric model and this upgraded [one] will include incorporate the wisdom of the global community.
There are different ways to exchange documents and request and receive data, so it’ll be a matter of having all voices heard as broadly as we possibly can.
I know the revision of the model is ongoing, but so far, what are some notable changes you would like to point out?
We’re looking to make the EDRM diagram more interactive so that you’d be able to click on a box and then go deeper into that section or even to the point of arrows from box to box. Like being able to say. okay, I’m gonna go from here to here, but let’s click on the arrow and see what I need to do.
Probably the biggest change was the addition of [a feature that was] first called “information management” and then later “information governance” on the front end. I saw that as probably the biggest substantive change. I’ve heard all sorts of things from people, like analytics should be throughout, security and privacy should be throughout. [Questions like], do you need to collect before you process or can you process in place, you know, basically search in place and how we would represent that.
So I think…it is time to take a good look at it.
There’s been a big push for preservation in place, [early case assessment] in place, which is a little farther to the left of [the EDRM diagram]. The way the diagram represents [information governance] right now, it looks almost like it’s a linear process. And so how do we express that it’s not, step by step by step by step? That some of the steps can be done before the others or in combination with the others? And how do we best represent that?
[For example], Microsoft 365 has evolved since the [EDRM] model was built. Everything needed to be extracted out of its native container…[but we now have] Microsoft 365. There’s a lot of the front end that can be done inside the tool itself. And so it’s evolved. Same goes for Google Office Docs. I would say those two things, if you added them together, they’d be 80% of the volume of e-discovery. So having them change that does make us want to take a look.
What are some of these other steps that can be done together or non-linearly?
So when you’re doing nothing, litigation-wise or investigation-wise, regulatory-wise in the information governance space, you’re just working in your organization, creating documents, disposing of documents, editing documents, protecting them.
But then once you make a request yourself and you become subject to getting requests back, then it’s like—is identification the name of…the phase where you assess what is the scope of what’s being requested, or what I’m requesting? Is identification the right name for it?
So, what takes place during the identification phase? Do those things happen at the same time?
Aesthetically and functionally, how might the new model look?
Everybody uses the diagram and finds some utility in one form or another. It’s going to be something to get to a consensus on an entirely new look. But it is a communal [project].
One of the things I have thought about is [using] the ChatGPT tool, the one that can do representations, and ask it maybe to put the EDRM diagram into the internet stack. What does it look like that way? What does it look like in a hub and spoke? But again, this is a community document that a lot of people use, and so we’re not going to make changes just for the sake of of making a change.
When do you hope the next model will be ready?
We’re gonna gather folks and see what their time commitments are, but I’m certainly looking to at least have a public comment version by the year’s end.
Who will be participating in the remodel?
Everybody is welcome. We have roles for experienced directors and we have roles for project managers and editors, and people who want to learn who would be helping the editors to make what we are putting forward consumable by somebody who doesn’t know anything about e-discovery.