The eDiscovery Reference Model (EDRM) has been a great guide to create a common language of what legal teams with an inside counsel or outside counsel are required to do as they prepare a case.
The EDRM model, and the organization, have been such good references that the terminology and structure have been adopted by internal investigations, information governance, and information security teams.
Some technologies that exist today question the current model. By looking at the accepted business model for eDiscovery, you’ll see the following structure mapping nicely to its steps.
First, there are identification and collection. A number of organizations focus on collecting as much data as possible that may be relevant to the case.
This information is then passed on to another set of technologies to:
- Produce, and finally
A number of cloud startups focus on this last phase and provide new levels of usability – with flashy UIs.
What About Identification and Collection?
However, the identification and collection parts of the process have kept the same basic assumptions. These assumptions are based on a criminal model, where police officers are sent onsite to an organization with a search warrant to collect all relevant information.
In IT criminal investigations, it has often meant either copying all of the data or walking away with computers.
In the corporate world, we still operate somewhat under the same premise. When we get sued, we call our external council who will request that we copy (collect) a whole bunch of data (related and unrelated) and send it to them for further processing or analysis. The problem here is two-fold:
- The organization which is the owner of this information has the best knowledge of where relevant information resides and what constitutes relevant information, and
- The business players receiving the information (often subcontractors to the outside council) charge fees proportional to the amount of data that needs to be reviewed.
The software vendors supplying these companies also charge fees proportional to the amount of data to search. These suppliers have been trying to increase their piece of the pie by delivering smarter & smarter software with features such as machine learning and clustering that can reduce the time and the number of people required to perform reviews.
So as an industry, we have made good progress, but not enough when it comes to the identification and collection process. And that may be due to the business model of the eDiscovery software vendors.
The Left-Hand Side of the EDRM is Relevant Too
What if there was a way for organizations to reduce the amount of data that is collected? To move the more relevant bar from the right-hand side of our eDiscovery model a bit more to the left? Healthcare organizations, corporations, and government bodies have this opportunity. They can take control of eDiscovery costs and timelines by being smarter during the collection process.
They own the data, so why not reduce the amount of data that is sent for review? Not only does it reduce costs, but it shortens the timeline to send reviewed data to their corporate counsel.
The same thing applies to the outside legal counsel. Legal firms have every reason to reduce the cost of eDiscovery and make their efforts with their customers more effectively. They can get directly involved in helping customers reduce the cost by participating in this enhanced collection process.
How Does this Work?
We could call it Live Early Data Assessment. The idea is to have software that:
- Connects to all the data sources that are relevant to an organization,
- Keeps a permanent collection, and
- Maintains an up-to-date index of the information.
So when an eDiscovery request is made, inside or outside counsel can quickly identify a complete, but minimum, set of data by processing directly in the source location. Then in one swoop, the information is collected, put on legal hold, and exported thereby completing the review, produce, and present process.
What is great is that not only does this process applies to on-premise data – for which many organizations have collection tools – but also applies to all of the increasingly popular cloud services such as box.com, OneDrive, O365 email, and more.
So within one system and one UI, documents can be collated to a minimum data set which significantly reduces the cost of eDiscovery. The overall process is much shorter, which reduces timelines, and allows organizations to prepare better for litigation.