As our world grows increasingly connected through electronic devices like computers, tablets, and cellphones, the use of eDiscovery (the collection and review of electronically stored information) has become an essential step for attorneys and law firms when building a case.
The Electronic Discovery Reference Model, or EDRM, remains the definitive guide to the recovery and discovery of electronically stored information (ESI).
When you think about your current eDiscovery process, take a look at the nine stages of the EDRM and consider whether or not you are utilizing each effectively.
What Are the Nine Stages of EDRM?
1. Information Governance
Ensure your organization or client is prepared to pursue best practices for eDiscovery.
You’ll need to implement processes that minimize risk and expense when responding to an eDiscovery request. Be sure to have these processes in place in advance, within your organization and/or by locating a business that specializes in data management.
Locate the potential sources of ESI and determine their scope within the investigation or case.
For instance: will the case in question involve text messages sent from a cell phone? How many messages are relevant to the investigation, over what length of time were they sent, and what kind of support will they provide?
A big downside to electronically stored information is that accidental deletion or even physical damage to the device the information is located on could lead to a partial or even total loss of the evidence provided by the ESI.
Be sure you have a plan to protect and preserve this information from loss. A properly executed legal hold cannot be overlooked as part of this process.
Gather the ESI for further review.
A simple file on someone’s computer full of unlabeled or unorganized ESI could lead to serious inefficiencies and wasted time when evaluating data. Ensure that your entire organization is aware of the process and rules for maintaining an orderly collection for each case.
Reduce the overall volume of information through culling and filtering non-relevant data, then convert relevant data into formats more suitable for efficient review and analysis, as well as trial presentation.
Both review and analysis are often woven into collection and processing, but may come afterward as well.
Use advanced search tools and methods to review your data and organize for for production and trial presentation.
Take time to evaluate the ESI for content and context.
The sheer volume of electronic information that is utilized or created by the average individual can be quite high — just think of how many text messages or emails you send each day — so it’s important to sift out irrelevant information and use only the key topics, discussions, and individuals mentioned or involved that are most relevant to the litigation in question.
Odds are good that the ESI you are utilizing will need to be viewed by multiple parties, possibly in multiple formats.
Be sure to always utilize appropriate delivery formats and mechanisms, including completing metadata, proper image conversion, load files, and more.
ESI may be presented in response to a production request, but ultimately will be utilized most often in depositions, hearings, and trial presentation.
To best utilize ESI in building a case, one should take into account how best to present the data as it originally appeared or was intended to appear in its native or near-native form.
Utilizing EDRM as a method of managing eDiscovery and crafting a truly persuasive trial presentation strategy is one of our key areas of practice here at Legal Eagle, and it’s one of our most sought-after litigation support services.
Interested in learning more about electronically stored information, eDiscovery, and how utilizing EDRM can help you in trial presentation? We’d be happy to speak with you!
Our own Adam Shirley regularly gives FREE Lunch and Learn presentations to interested law firms and other organizations around South Carolina, and we’d be thrilled to add you to our calendar. Reach us by phone at (864) 467-1373 or contact us online at any time to get started scheduling your free Lunch and Learn with Adam!