This year, I was lucky enough to help with the first draft of the Processing Standards Guide, published by the EDRM on March 10. The document aims to set basic standards for processing in our industry. While writing it, the EDRM Processing Standards Group took pains to achieve the goal of enabling those responsible for processing data for e-discovery to ask the right questions and make good choices.
As the principal author of this document, I was enlightened not only by the content we published but by the experience of drafting it. Here are a few of those insights.
1) Our industry can do better in providing guidance on processing data.
As our group put this document together and read through the many responses to the draft, this became more apparent than ever. Inconsistency in this stage of e-discovery could lead to incorrect or incomplete information influencing cases. Even some of the earliest decisions—such as which time zone to set, or how to de-duplicate records—may seem simple enough when you’re first processing your data, but it pays to be thoughtful about them. The definitions and guidelines the EDRM is drafting will help clarify processing workflows and, as a result, streamline review and improve analysis of electronic data.
2) There is real tension caused by differing and changing views in the industry.
The conversation around our draft guidelines ranged from suggestions for widely varying best practices to reminders that the document should be software agnostic. We’ve been operating without a standard set of guidelines for so long, and everyone has their own approach—a natural challenge for setting up this guidance now. But it was productive to repeatedly return to the group’s goal of proposing guidelines applicable to everyone processing data for e-discovery purposes, and it was refreshing to experience this draft as a collaborative effort, where everyone could bring their thoughts to the table. We’re currently working to incorporate all that feedback into a finalized document.
3) This guide is truly a living document.
There is a reason we call the current Processing Standards Guide a draft, and that’s because we don’t expect this document to stay the same. Our goal was to inform readers of the differences in processing practices and guide their teams in deciding which approaches are right for them. It’s no secret our industry is evolving quickly—recent changes in technology adoption, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and even the EDRM itself make that clear. As data volumes grow, data types change, and case teams and courts become more sophisticated with e-discovery, processes will change. We’ll keep revisiting this guide to stay on target.
Overall, I’m proud our document is able to clarify a set of standard considerations for processing data, while accommodating the fact that there isn’t always one “correct” way. I am also pleased that the entire drafting process was such a collaborative one.
For more updates, stay tuned to this blog—we’ll keep you posted on the new guide.