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ABA E-Discovery Expert Says Emerging Standards Are Premature
Law Technology News
In the standards game to normalize the form and use of e-discovery load files, the American Bar Association may stay on the sidelines until a few more seasons go by -- perhaps several years, officials said Wednesday.
Load files are a primary way of moving data between e-discovery applications. For example, to transfer data from collection programs to review platforms, or from review platforms to processing engines. Most people use de facto methods from the AccessData Summation and LexisNexis Concordance applications.
A standard proposed by the Electronic Discovery Reference Model organization, EDRM-XML, has not gained much traction. But officials with the international Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards' LegalXML commitee, which has widespread credibility in the wider IT field and previously expressed interest in working with EDRM, recently said the ABA's E-Discovery and Digital Evidence committee may get involved.
"LegalXML continues to explore options for developing XML specifications for e-discovery with potential partners such as EDRM and the ABA," LegalXML leader Jim Cabral said Monday.
Not so fast, ABA e-discovery chairman Steven Teppler said, when asked about the OASIS statement.
"A lot of us think that standard-setting for an area in which the technology has not yet matured is a little bit premature," said Teppler, an attorney and data security expert at Sarasota, Fla.-based Edelson McGuire.
"It's very hard to kind of technologize this, where your best practices are still emerging," Teppler explained. There is too much variance of evidence and preservation requirements between federal and local courts, sometimes in the same case, he noted. "There's still too much wiggle room. We're still 3 to 5 years away from seeing a generalized trend in how people handle things, because the courts are still not in agreement," he added.
But, Teppler said, the ABA sees room for progressing on several other technological fronts. At its annual science and technology meetings in Chicago this week, ABA committees such as Teppler's will discuss other possible standards for handling digital evidence and forensics, along with e-discovery implications of the bring-your-own-device trend, cloud computing, and information governance, he said.
"The laws of unintended consequences have particular application in a case like this," Teppler joked. "We're looking at an infusion of technology into the practice of law."
Groups outside of the ABA are also working on legal technology standards. Efforts regarding cloud computing, defensible deletion, legal holds and preservation, and irrelevant file removal are under way.