Author: Helen GeibEDRM

The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM): The eDiscovery Lifecycle

EDRM graphic

The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) is the defining conceptual model of the eDiscovery lifecycle. The EDRM organizes eDiscovery tasks and duties into seven primary stages: identification; preservation; collection; processing; analysis; review; and production. The model is bookended by pre-litigation information governance and post-discovery evidence presentation. This post provides capsule summaries and links to a series of in-depth articles on each of the EDRM stages.


Information governance

EDiscovery is faster, easier and cheaper for companies that govern their information. This article examines the intersection of information governance and eDiscovery. Prepare for eDiscovery and cut costs through active data management and defensible destruction prior to litigation.

Information Governance: Set Your Company Up for eDiscovery Success



Identification is the process of learning about the client’s electronically stored information (ESI) in order to locate, preserve and collect discoverable data. The identification stage is the foundation of the entire eDiscovery project. This three part series on identification essentials provides an overview of the purpose, process and practical considerations of identification within the overall eDiscovery project.

Purpose, Process and Practicality: eDiscovery Identification Part 1

Ask the Right Questions: eDiscovery Identification Part 2

Data Verification and Documentation: eDiscovery Identification Part 3

eDiscovery Identification in 5 Steps infographic



Preservation lies at the intersection of law, technology and strategy. It must fulfill the party’s legal duty to preserve discoverable ESI, but must also be technologically feasible and cost-effective. The preservation post explains the six main factors to determine whether to preserve a relevant data source in place or make a preservation collection. The legal hold is the foundation of most corporate preservation plans. The second article covers the distinct steps of implementing a legal hold for your client’s data. Preservation that is treated as part of the overall litigation plan has the best return on investment.

Create a Successful Preservation Strategy

Hold On: Legal Hold Notice How-To

Preservation: 6 Guiding Factors Infographic



Collection in eDiscovery is copying ESI to make it available to the legal team for analysis, review and production. Collection is preceded by identification and preservation. Identification determines the scope of collection while preservation ensures that relevant ESI is there to be collected. This article reviews the four pillars of defensible collection plans: people; process; software; and documentation.

Four Pillars of Defensible Collection Plans



Processing’s purpose is two-fold. First, reformat ESI for analysis and review. Second, cull unneeded files from the dataset prior to review. This article outlines six powerful data filters and provides an overview of the main technical steps in processing. To best serve their clients, litigators need to understand processing basics and how they impact eDiscovery workflow and costs.

eDiscovery Processing Basics for Lawyers



Analytics tools for eDiscovery are powerful, proven and readily available. They serve a number of critical strategic purposes. These include improved review efficiency, minimizing manual review to reduce costs and more effective issue spotting. The two part analytics article offers four strategic reasons – and a bonus reason – to use advanced eDiscovery analytics in every case. Keyword searches are still important as well. The keyword search article covers the building blocks of effective keyword searches: good keywords; search syntax; and validation.

Strategic Uses for eDiscovery Analytics: Part 1

Strategic Uses for eDiscovery Analytics: Part 2

Building Blocks of Effective Keyword Search



This article is an in-depth look at planning an eDiscovery review. Planning starts by building on the work done during the identification, processing and analysis stages. Second, clear goals must be set at the outset. Most reviews have one of these five areas of focus: responsiveness; privilege; substantive issues; deposition preparation; opposing party production. Third, assign the right people to the review team. There are multiple factors to consider in recruiting and assigning reviewers.

eDiscovery Review in Review



Responsive, non-privileged ESI must be produced to the opposing party. Production is a technical process that also involves significant legal issues and cost considerations. Lawyers’ critical responsibility is to negotiate a favorable form or production at the start of the case. This article explains the technical basics and terminology lawyers need to know to get production format right.

Specify Production Format Upfront or Pay the Cost Later

QDiscovery’s Template Production Specifications



Evidence presentation is the end goal of discovery and the final stage of the EDRM. Today the vast majority of documentary evidence is ESI. This article reviews the four major areas of focus in electronic evidence presentation. Metadata and readability are unique to ESI. Authentication of ESI raises particular technical issues. Finally, sanctions for eDiscovery misconduct can put an end to presentation before it begins.

Presenting the Final Stage of eDiscovery: Presentation


The stages of the EDRM are clearly distinct yet interdependent. Discovery is an iterative process and working on multiple stages simultaneously is the norm. Familiarity with all stages is a must for litigators and other eDiscovery professionals.




Helen Geib is General Counsel for QDiscovery. Her deep knowledge of eDiscovery law and practice was gained over many years of experience, first as a litigator in an Am Law 100 firm and subsequently as an eDiscovery consultant. Helen has published numerous articles on topics in eDiscovery and legal technology. She is a member of the bar of the State of Indiana and the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana and a registered patent attorney. She serves as chapter director of the Women in eDiscovery Indianapolis chapter, which she launched in 2017.


This post is for general informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or to substitute for legal counsel, and does not create an attorney-client privilege.

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