A Critical First Step to the EDRM: Information Governance for Lawyers
By: Eric Parish, Esq., CEDS, IGP
How defined and implemented information governance practices benefit lawyers.
Read time: 3 minutes
Information Governance (InfoGov) has been defined many ways over years, and only recently has the legal industry begun to understand its relevance to the discovery process.
My favorite definition for Information Governance is from author Robert Smallwood. He writes InfoGov is “security, control and optimization of information”. It’s a tight, succinct definition, unlike many others which are overly complex.
Maybe then it isn’t really a surprise that it wasn’t until 2007 that the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) included information management (prior, the focus was strictly on records). In 2014 the phrase “information governance” first appeared in the EDRM. Finally, in 2020, the actual Information Governance reference model became included as the first (critical) step in the EDRM.
What does this mean for lawyers?
Simply put, when you have information governance policies and principles in place, you switch from being reactive to being responsive and – even better – proactive.
Having an InfoGov foundation improves the areas of identification, preservation and collection as well as ancillary benefits when it comes to eDiscovery data processing, review and analysis. How? By radically reducing the volumes of data entering the EDRM.
As a result, legal teams will have a much smoother eDiscovery experience because information is found more rapidly, along with less risk, less frustration and reduced resource requirements and overall cost.
Lawyers know that Electronically Stored Information (ESI) volumes have exploded and so too have corresponding eDiscovery demands. Organizations are losing track of what data is stored, where its stored, and who “owns” it. These factors complicate the process of identification and collection.
Consider this alternative, if your organization was managing its information in a proactive way, how that would drive a more streamlined eDiscovery experience for you?
Having an InfoGov program with the right tools in place allows legal teams to get at records faster and more efficiently. It reduces the amount of time employees are wasting on searching for records. This is critical for lawyers.
Good Information governance eliminates R-O-T
Discarded information often include information that has no business value – the redundant, obsolete, and trivial data, or “ROT” for short.
Eliminating ROT is part of any good information governance program. Using a File Analysis solution is a great way to tackle ROT. It allows you to locate, identify, classify and dispose of non-record information with ease. This creates a net effect of reducing your organization's information footprint, allowing for potentially relevant ESI to be located and identified more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, file analysis helps with legal hold as it zeroes in on precise information that's relevant and puts only those documents on hold, rather than entire mailboxes or accounts. This leads to enormous cost savings.
Litigation doesn’t need to be a fire drill
Too often, litigation is a fire drill. It just doesn't need to be that way. The reason Information Governance is at the start of the EDRM is to reduce that volume of information that needs to go into the right side of the EDRM. Basically, when the “left side” of the EDRM is in order it ensures that the rest is streamlined and you're only looking at the most relevant information enabling better decision making, lower costs, less frustration, and just a better process all around.
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