EDRM search guide draft released

George Socha released the 78-page EDRM search guide draft v. 1.14 on February 6th for public review and comment. The guide is meant as educational commentary for legal professionals and litigation software and service providers, including guidelines in developing “appropriate and effective search methods.” The guide is the work of 18 people from 15 organizations – some of the boldfaced company names I picked out from the document changes being Autonomy-Zantaz, Clearwell Systems and Vivisimo, as well as a number of law firms and others.

The guide offers a step-by-step scenario of litigation response involving two fictitious companies and their alliterative employees (e.g. Alex Arnold of Alpha Corporation and Bonnie Benson of Beta Corporation) embroiled in an intellectual property dispute.  This example is used to illustrate the workflow that goes along with the EDRM. It was instructive and sometimes entertaining, for those of us who read mystery novels and are interested in the chase, anyway.

It also includes an in-depth primer on search methodologies and syntax, which tickled my librarian bone. This section would be at home in a library school curriculum, right down to the search query treatment of diacritics. Of course the flip side of this is that average users might find it too technical.  Overall it’s a good read for anyone interested in search and information retrieval. Later sections deal with search documentation and validation of results.

I found the guide to be comprehensive in addressing the litigation response process and strategies for defensibility. It is straightforward in listing the actions that professionals in each role (general counsel, outside counsel, custodians, IT personnel, witnesses) must take, and overall it achieves a good balance of outlining the legal process and the resulting steps taken with each fictitious party’s ESI.  I think it elegantly addresses one of the big criticisms of e-discovery products, references and approaches – namely that they are not always a happy marriage of IT and legal expertise, or do not encourage collaboration and mutual understanding between these two groups.

Rob Robinson of Orange LT has logged some early commentary on the guide here. Like Rob, I was a little surprised that there was not a section for judicial rulings regarding search. On the other hand it’s nice to read practical advice that is not mired in legal-speak. There are certainly plenty of other sources that provide history and explanation, and with the rapid succession of decisions being handed down lately it might be difficult to keep it current for the sake of the guide.

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