Should we revisit the electronic discovery reference model?

Recently I attended an IQPC conference where one question that was raised during our presentation was, “Is the EDRM model outdated, based on the technology toolsets currently available?” This question inspires another question, “Is the EDRM model, so heavily relied on, hampering the evolution and delivery of the techno-legal solutions that enable the market to evolve?”

Depicted above is the traditional electronic discovery model that a great number of vendors use to position their products in the marketplace. The IQPC attendees suggested that perhaps In-house counsel , the people on the front lines, can use technologies that collapse the identification, preservation, collection, and first pass review into a single step enabling “early case assessment” and allowing them to achieve substantial cost savings.

While my personal position on this question is still evolving, I certainly feel that the attendees raised valid points. It is beyond refute that organizations that acquire the ability to seamlessly identify, preserve, collect, and review when seeking to establish the specific facts relating to a particular issue potentially place themselves in a stronger legal position.

Irrespective of the legal benefit, it is clear to me that if In-house legal departments could achieve visibility into the “creation-to-court” cost of information it would be easy to measure the effectiveness and cost-benefit of e-Discovery technologies. In addition to the business benefits, the same information could be presented to the court to support cost shifting arguments. With this information, the courts could make more informed findings on shifting costs.

I welcome comments and thoughts about the legal process and technology–especially thoughts related to the questions, “Has technology evolved beyond the confines of the EDRM model?” and “Is there monetary and/or legal value in having email creation- to-court cost breakdowns?” and “Can this cost be calculated?”

Daniel B. Garrie, Esq. has a B.A. and M.A. in computer science and is an e-discovery neutral and special master with Alternative Resolution Centers, available internationally. He can be reached at (310) 284-8224 or (800) 347-4512 and at DGarrie@fsrdg.com.