Technology Standards and the New EDRM

The EDRM: Websites, Leaders, and Standards

Recently the EDRM highlighted the release of a new website with the goal of making the site faster and easier to use. The website is one of the first publicly facing deliverables from the EDRM since Duke Law acquired it in August of 2016. With the acquisition of the EDRM by Duke Law, it seems reasonable to pause and consider the positive impact the EDRM has had on legal discovery during its initial twelve years of existence and also ponder the promise of the EDRM regarding technology standardization.

Launched in May 2005, the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (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 provided and continues to provide a common, flexible and extensible framework for the development, selection, evaluation and use of electronic discovery products and services. The completed model entered the public domain in May 2006. Between 2005 and 2016 the EDRM was led by electronic discovery consultants George Socha and Tom Gelbmann. In August of 2016, Duke Law School announced the acquisition of the EDRM with the stated goal of expanding the EDRM’s efforts in industry education and standards.

With the purchase of the EDRM by Duke Law, it appears that the EDRM is well positioned as an organization to extend its positive impact on the discipline of discovery beyond reference models and best practices and into the realm of technology standardization.

Standardization of technology has the promise to cut business and legal risks through the identification of challenges and development of mechanisms to prevent actual and potential issues and downtime. Standardization also many times is the precursor to the rapid uptake of new and beneficial approaches to solving problems with technology. If the EDRM, under its new leadership, can contribute to industry standardization by helping create technology standards besides task and process frameworks, the development of data and legal discovery technologies may see a new level of acceleration that should positively impact all members of the eDiscovery ecosystem. This transition is of particular importance as many current eDiscovery technology offerings are at the stage in their lifecycle where they will either need to be updated or rewritten to deal with integration, automation, and emerging technologies such as technology-assisted review, artificial intelligence.

In the last twelve years, the EDRM’s contribution to eDiscovery has been unparalleled. Under its new leadership, the promise of the EDRM for the future may lay in its ability to help facilitate technological standardization in data and legal discovery.

Post-Script: Example Associations

If the EDRM is looking for models of organizations that have embraced technical standardization in their approach to serving their industries, they may look to organizations including:

  • The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is the world’s leading organization dedicated to defining and raising awareness of best practices to help ensure a secure cloud computing environment. CSA harnesses the subject matter expertise of industry practitioners, associations, governments, and its corporate and individual members to offer cloud security-specific research, education, certification, events and products. CSA’s activities, knowledge and extensive network benefit the entire community impacted by cloud — from providers and customers, to governments, entrepreneurs and the assurance industry — and provide a forum through which diverse parties can work together to create and maintain a trusted cloud ecosystem.
  • The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is a non-profit organization made up of member companies spanning information technology. A globally recognized and trusted authority, SNIA’s mission is to lead the storage industry in developing and promoting vendor-neutral architectures, standards and educational services that facilitate the efficient management, movement and security of information.