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XML standard announced for e-discovery industry

The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), an industry group
created to develop and establish practical guidelines and standards for
electronic discovery, this week announced that it has developed an
Extensible Markup Language (XML) standard for the easy transfer of
electronically stored information (ESI) to and from applications
involved in different phases of the discovery process. The new XML
standard will help all e-discovery practitioners – whether vendors,
consultants, law firms, in-house counsel or corporate IT departments –
reduce the cost, time and manual work associated with e-discovery.


“In any discovery project, no matter the type of company or legal
matter involved, data is stored, collected, reviewed and produced
across multiple systems in a very costly and complex process,” said
George Socha, co-founder of EDRM and president of Socha Consulting LLC.
“The XML standard addresses a major pain point within e-discovery –
moving and formatting the different types of data across all of these
disparate systems – and is an important step towards streamlining the
process.”

The XML standard was developed by the XML Project, an EDRM working
group consisting of technologists and lawyers from the leading
e-discovery vendors, service providers, law firms and corporate
end-users. The standard consists of an XML Schema Definition (XSD) that
will allow all parties to consistently describe documents, email,
attachments and standalone files, as well as the underlying metadata
for all of those objects as they move through the e-discovery process.
The XML Project has created a validation tool to quickly and
efficiently validate that files conform to the XML standard prior to
importing the data.  Additionally, the XML Project has developed an XML
compliance process to help all parties determine whether products
conform to the standard and interoperate properly.

In total, the new XML standard provides a number of benefits to
users involved in all stages of the e-discovery process, including:

  • Labor and cost reduction: IT departments, legal teams and service
    providers no longer have to spend valuable time and resources
    converting and transferring ESI from system to system
  • Reduction in errors: Not only can organizations focus on
    proficiency in a single standard schema as opposed to an infinite
    number of disparate formats, but the validation tool detects
    non-conforming load files earlier in the process
  • Faster e-discovery process: Data can be transferred from system to
    system more quickly, ultimately leading to a faster overall process
  • Scalability: The ability to adapt to future technological advances as well as new metadata constructs

“From the beginning, EDRM has focused on developing standards and
providing thought leadership to a new and very complicated market,”
said Tom Gelbmann, co-founder of EDRM and president of Gelbmann &
Associates. “We’re confident that as the XML standard is adopted by the
industry over the coming months, this will set the stage for greater
efficiencies within e-discovery.”

Launched in May 2005, the EDRM Project was created to address the
lack of standards and guidelines in the electronic discovery market – a
problem identified in the 2003 and 2004 Socha-Gelbmann Electronic
Discovery surveys as a major concern for vendors and consumers alike.
The completed reference model provides a common, flexible and
extensible framework for the development, selection, evaluation and use
of electronic discovery products and services. Expanding on the base
defined with the Reference Model, the EDRM projects were expanded in
May 2006 to include the EDRM Metrics and the EDRM XML projects.

Over
the past three years, the EDRM project has comprised more than 118
organizations, including 72 service and software providers, 34 law
firms, three industry groups and nine corporations involved with
e-discovery. Organisations actively involved in the creation of the standard include Zantaz, Summation, Concordance and MetaLINCS  – and many others involved in EDRM have committed to supporting the
XML standard by February’s LegalTech New York show. Information about EDRM is available at http://www.edrm.net

Commenting on the standard, Mark Reichenbach (Vice President – Client and Industry Development at MetaLINCS) said “You could look at this as a 'Universal Load File'. As an old Litigation Support guy from way back, I can recall countless
hours of massaging data load files, writing scripts and reading more 'import failed' messages, so much so it hurt, all in an effort to get
data out of one system and into another. If only this had come along
back then!”

13 replies on “XML standard announced for e-discovery industry”

I wonder where this leaves the LiST group initiative? If all the major software suppliers are going to adhere to this common standard, then does it render the LiST protocol irrelevant or are there issues addressed by the LiST approach that are not covered by this?

I'd love to know more about this initiative myself.
Can anyone point me in the right direction for additional information?
Best Regards,
Mark R.

We have invited Jonathan Maas, the head of litigation technology at DLA Piper UK – who is one of the driving forces behind LiST to reply to this – but as yet no response.

Great post. Just wanted to point out that there are other vendors who have also announced their support and have been more involved in the working group and development of standards than several of those mentioned in the article. These include Attenex, Clearwell and Recommind. David Baskin (formerly of Zantaz and now at Recommind) leads the working group and Kurt Leafstrand from Clearwell led the XSD schema working group.
Regarding the gentleman's question on the LiST initiative, you can find more information at http://www.listgroup.org

It is hard to comment on a press release alone when we have not had sight of the XML standard itself! Has anyone actually seen it yet? If so, where is it?
I obviously cannot yet comment on behalf of LiST, but we make reference to the need for an XML schema (or standard) in footnote 6 to Part 2 of our Data Exchange Protocol (http://www.listgroup.org/documents/Disclosure_Data_LiST_Group_Data_Exchange_Protocol_1.3_27_April_2007.doc). That is the direction in which we saw our work going, depending on the output from this project.
As to which, we have been aware of this initiative since its inception (indeed, LiST is cited as a founding participating organisation: http://edrm.net/xml_participants.php), and we made the deliberate point of sending an early private draft of our work in to the EDRM project so that our two initiatives were fully aware of each other's work product.
So, I think LiST is unable to answer the first poster's questions at the moment as we have not yet seen anything to consider (but I am very much looking forward to seeing it). However, the questions posed do rather miss the point of what LiST is trying to do. We want to make things simpler at a practical level. If a universal standard can be adopted then I personally would be delighted, regardless of its origins. However, I would like to ensure that the standard proposed fits all sizes of case and jurisdictions of usage.
I will be looking at this XML standard to see if it will work for us in the UK and I suspect that will be the thrust of my colleagues on LiST, too.
A final thought on the first post: I am not sure if it matters so much that the suppliers support this initiative. It is the end users who dictate what is useful. If the end users want something else then market forces dictate that the supplies will have to, um, supply it!
Jonathan Maas

I have now found a copy of the standard, embedded in the EDRM XML page (but the link doesn't seem to be working now). Although we have not had an opportunity to discuss it within LiST, my personal take is that it is aimed at vendors complying with a standard to deliver identical load files to users. If that is so, I'm not surprised it is getting vendor support (and 99.9% of active individual participants on the various working groups seem to be from vendors – I can see one law firm across the lot, limited to the XML Liaison with Metrics Working Group not on any “design” groups). It will probably also get user support on the limited basis that standard load files are okay.
On first pass, though, it doesn't seem to bear any real relationship to the necessarily more detailed LiST Protocol, which is aimed at allowing multiple organisations (parties, vendors, courts, etc.) exchange data/documents in a standard form. It does seem to acknowledge one of LiST's current recommendations, however, by referring to single page TIFFs a number of times.
What is surprising is that it took so long to produce this draft, which is dated 3 March 2007 on its face, with a file date of 29 October (yesterday, when I presume it was uploaded) and the date of 6 March 2007 in its metadata.

Great post Jonathan – this is what organisations like LiST are here for, to stop 'open standards' being railroaded by vendors. In fact some of the vendor press releases that accompanied this announcement gave the impression that it was entirely a vendor initiative.

From what I can see (and see the stats in my post above) it *is* entirely a US vendor initiative. Doubtless with broad support from users, but seeing as vendors can already produce an iCONECT load file, a Concordance load file, a Summation load file, an Introspect load file, a Ringtail load file, and so on, the main value I can see at the moment (and, I stress, without detailed thought from me) is shared output to multiple parties who are instructing the same vendor.
What the LiST Protocol seeks to do is to allow iCONECT, Concordance, Summation, Introspect and Ringtail users to exchange their disclosure documents and data in a standard format that each would be able to produce and digest without any further intervention. It would be great if the vendors wrote their own LiST-compliant input and output filters sooner rather than later as this is an area where a great deal of time is wasted and client cost incurred, pretty much unneccessarily in this day and age.
As for all LiST publications, comment has been sought (and received) from users and vendors in the UK, America, Canada, Australia and, doubtless, elsewhere. It is becoming clearer to me that the this XML standard and the LiST Protocol have entirely different angles and entry points and can live in peaceful co-existence.

Jonathan, I learned from your post and appreciate the points being made. I blogged on this a bit today and would like to invite you to comment there, as well. Charles, same invitation extended to you and all the readers of your fine blog.
The post today can be found at:
http://www.metalincs.com/onthemark/index.php/archives/69
While I currently work with a vendor, the sum of my career has been spent working in Lit Support for Law Firms and Corporation's in-house counsel. Your thoughts are appreciated and ongoing dialog should be encouraged.

Mark, I have visited your blog and left a brief post to let people know I'm around for limited debate (“limited” in that I don't think online is the best place for long debates).

Looking at the IP addresses, that last post was by Jonathan Maas

The think-tank level of both LiST and EDRM are essential if we are to move forward. I agree with Jonathan Maas that neither excludes the other and both add not just to the debate but to the practical advance, particularly if suppliers join in.
What matters as much (not more, but as much) is the message to the users and their clients. Proposed technical standards and sharp-looking acronyms tend to obscure two messages – what they can (and should) be doing NOW and that what matters most is thinking through the process whatever technical wizardry is or will be available.
Both Jonathan Maas and George Socha of EDRM emphasise this message repeatedly.
Chris Dale
http://www.chrisdalelawyersupport.co.uk
http://chrisdale.wordpress.com

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