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Visualizing the future of the Information Governance Reference Model for in-house counsel
June 20, 2017

By William Belt, Managing Director, Consulting, CDS.

The Information Governance Reference Model (IGRM) project, an outgrowth of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), provides a way to visualize the intricacies of information management. The goal of the IGRM is to help stakeholders understand their role in information management, and appreciate how true information management can only be achieved through successful collaboration with other groups across the enterprise. CDS has had a keen interest in visualizing aspects of the EDRM from the earliest days and our eDiscovery Counsel, Matthew Knouff, was part of the team that developed the original IGRM. The IGRM is depicted as a pie for a good reason—without each stakeholder’s vital “slice,” the process of information management would be incomplete. The IGRM is still a draft, but as information governance and eDiscovery matures, it will no doubt undergo significant changes. We predict that the IGRM of the future will have each stakeholder (including in-house counsel) increasingly involved in every aspect of information management, perhaps incorporating a visualization that weaves together roles.

From the in-house lawyer’s standpoint, the current IGRM frames their role as being concerned primarily with litigation. They are the ones who understand the duty to preserve information. However, lawyers increasingly are becoming an integral part of the business and technology sides of information management. In many contexts, they use information to create value and profit. They also are involved in dealing with the technology side – what forms of data exist, where is it and how is it secured and managed to protect its value. For instance, the lawyer’s success in protecting client’s intellectual property rights can impact the return on investment from a breakthrough drug or technological invention. When properly leveraged, counsel’s role parallels the work of the “business” side and counsel’s contribution intertwines with the work of the inventors and engineers on the technology side.

Even in the litigation context, as eDiscovery rules change, attorney policies and procedures have to evolve with them. Lawyers must understand the technology in order to be able to respond appropriately to discovery demands. For example, the new rules’ focus on proportionality requires counsel to understand and articulate the burden of collecting, processing, reviewing and producing data from a client’s information systems. For attorneys who have never worked with forensics tools, or email threading or production load files, the danger of over-simplifying discovery means that the burden is inaccurately described and quantified. The result is a proportionality analysis based on bad facts, an inordinately expensive discovery process, or worse.

By the same token, the business and IT sides must appreciate the profit, risks and efficiencies of information in order to make appropriate decisions about information governance. Attorneys who have worked in this space for any amount of time can see the progress being made toward reliable, actionable categorization technologies and can offer an invaluable perspective that goes beyond litigation holds and risk mitigation. That is because attorneys help clients deal with information both globally (e.g. terabytes to be managed in legal processes), and as single individual documents (like the individual trial exhibits that come from those terabytes) that will support or undermine the story the client wants to present in court.

We are still in the early stages of creating a model for effective information governance. How will the IGRM of the future look? Tell us what you think on Twitter.

CDS’ team of experts can help you plan for the future of IGRM today. Contact us to schedule an eDiscovery assessment.

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About the Author

<a href="https://cdslegal.com/team/william-wallace-belt-jr/" target="_blank">William Wallace Belt, Jr., Esq.</a>

William Wallace Belt, Jr., Esq.

Bill has 25 years of experience as a partner, shareholder and board member of AmLaw 200 law firms, including Williams Mullen where he built one of the first law firm eDiscovery practices. For the last 10 years Bill has participated in and now runs a Corporate-Only Roundtable where corporate eDiscovery teams, judges and industry experts have met to share experiences and discuss emerging challenges and solutions that combine technological and legal solutions.

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