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!”