There is little question surrounding the need for standardization in the e-discovery field, as the amount of electronically stored information (ESI) generated daily continues to grow. It is vital that any e-discovery company be apprised of the changing standards. One example of efforts to encourage cohesion in the e-discovery community is the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM). This organization developed and released the first version of its EDRM-XML to the public in February 2008. From their website, the EDRM overviews its EDRM-XML specification as follows: “The EDRM XML specification exists to enable vendor-neutral data interchange from one step of the e-discovery process to the next, from one software program to the next, and from one organization to the next.” EDRM-XML endeavors in the short term to replace proprietary load file formats in the processing, analysis and review stages of the e-discovery lifecycle. The long term vision for EDRM-XML appears to extend its industry usefulness to the identification, preservation and collection phases as well.
Are Such Standards Still Necessary?
In the “dark ages” of e-discovery, issues such as the formatting of load files often fueled disagreements between parties. Since that time, the industry has been both evolving and coming together. Some industry software platforms have self-regulated, in a manner of speaking, so that many are able to read other platforms’ load file formats or convert data to a useable format without undue burden. This includes integration of the EDRM-XML as an option for import/export. Although the industry has been evolving toward finding more common ground, there continues to be areas of contention in the proper handling of ESI. Whether or not one of these areas of contention would be resolved in the standardized use of the EDRM-XML, however, has been questioned by some.
Many industry insiders who have had years of experience with data transfer and conversion see a real need for solid e-discovery standards now, rather than waiting to see what the future will bring. As long as such standards are currently relevant and continue to evolve, they believe that we have to start somewhere and that the EDRM-XML in its current state is not only a good start, it will become better upon further development.
Will the Adoption of Such Standards Decrease Costs?
One excellent reason to push toward more universal standards in e-discovery is to decrease the overall cost of handling ESI in the discovery phase of litigation or during an investigation. There are many costs, while industry standards remain undefined, that are related only to ensuring one party can access and review the other’s ESI. If e-discovery standards, such as the EDRM-XML, were to gain momentum in the industry such superfluous expenses could arguably become a thing of the past.
Is the Adoption of Such Standards Supported in the e-Discovery Community?
According to the EDRM website, there are 32 vendors currently involved in the EDRM-XML effort, 21 of which support this specification for import, export or both. As the EDRM continues its outreach in the e-discovery community, and continues its work on the 2012 release of EDRM-XML version 2.0, those numbers should increase. In the interim, some industry insiders appear to be taking a “wait and see” approach before deciding on whether they feel standards such as the EDRM-XML are even necessary. Others seem to believe that any lag in support of industry standardization may be directly related to less experienced vendors’ misunderstanding of their role in such a model
We would appreciate reader feedback on standardization methods, such as the EDRM-XML, and how you believe these will (or will not) shape the future of e-discovery.
If you need assistance in navigating the current “standards” for handling ESI in discovery, or for an investigation, call Advanced Discovery at (866) 560-5898 or visit us at the Contact Us page on our website.