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Since its original creation in 2006, the now iconic EDRM diagram has been downloaded from the EDRM website many thousands of times, and referenced throughout the industry in media articles, blogs and e-discovery training materials.

The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) serves as a roadmap for handling the overwhelming amount of electronic evidence that attorneys and companies have to deal with. According to one report, more than 90% of documentation is now in an electronic format, and that percentage is still rising (the Sedona Conference Workshop Group on Electronic Documentation Retention and Production, 2010). For most companies winding up in a situation requiring eDiscovery is inevitable, so having a method for production of electronic evidence is crucial. The EDRM is especially useful in reducing the volume of information to what is relevant.

The EDRM has nine stages: information management, identification, preservation, collection, processing, review, analysis, production and presentation.

For a detailed description of the EDRM stages, go to www.edrm.net and click on each stage to see more information.

The updated diagram above includes the detailed Information Governance Reference Model (IGRM) to the left of the EDRM diagram, giving a more holistic view of the relationship between information governance and e-discovery. In addition, each phase of the EDRM includes a brief description of the processes and activities taking place in that phase.

In the EDRM, the identification stage starts with assigning a team responsibility for identifying potential sources of relevant data. It might involve interviewing IT staff, business units and others. The information might consist of emails, text messages, and even posts in Twitter or other social-networking sites used to attract customers. During this stage, the team sets up the requirements for what to collect.

The preservation and collection stages are intertwined; after all, data must be preserved before it’s collected. The duty to preserve is a provision of the FRCP, stating that a company involved in a case must retain all documents and data pertaining to the case. This duty might take effect in anticipation of an order from legal counsel, or it might not take effect until an actual lawsuit is filed. Because only relevant data should be collected and care must be taken to collect ESI and its associated metadata in a way that’s “legally defensible, proportionate, efficient, auditable, and targeted”. The collection stage relies on the requirements developed in the identification stage.

As shown above, the processing, review, and analysis stages take place in a loop. The processing stage has four subtasks: assessment, preparation, selection, and output. You begin by assessing what information is available. For example, in a company with 50,000 employees, data might be stored on employees’ computers, servers, backup tapes, CDs/DVDs, and other media, resulting in large-scale duplication of information. Although most emails are stored in .pst (MS Outlook) archives, for example, not all emails in these archives will be relevant to the case. To reduce costs in civil cases, irrelevant emails aren’t produced to opposing counsel. Furthermore, deduplication (or “deduping”) might be undertaken. Deduping occurs when multiple people have received the same email, and software is used to compare email identifiers across multiple custodians (those responsible for granting, access to files and email) or a single custodian. The case details dictate whether only one copy of an email is enough to address the legal issues or whether multiple copies from multiple people or places (such as several managers receiving and reading the same email on the same day) are necessary to prove a legal position.

After the assessment task is finished, the preparation task include restoring backups, converting file types, full-text indexing, and other procedures. Next, the selection task reduces the amount of data that will be sent to opposing counsel, and then the output task converts data into the required format.

During the review stage, investigations not only take into account what’s relevant, but also consider whether to exclude proprietary information, such as trade secrets in a civil case or confidential government information (such as informants’ names) in a criminal case. During the analysis stage, investigators examine the files for relevant information – patterns, key terms, people’s names and so forth.

The production stage packages data and puts it into the format both sides have agreed upon. This stage often generates debates over whether files should be left in their native format or converted to PDF, what information might be added or lost if files are converted or processed in any way, and other issues. If a conflict goes before a court or an arbiter, the presentation stage comes into play. Depending on the objectives of the trial, arbitration, or mediations, you select what ESI should be included and decide whether to present if onscreen, in paper format, or another format.

Using the EDRM Model, write a one- to two-page paper describing the identification stage tasks Shirley Johnson needs to follow and include a discussion of what kind of information about the transaction (conducted mainly by email) that might be on Ms. Tjakami’s computer based on the below Scenario:

Ms. Beryl Tjakami is a museum creator. As a museum employee, she entered into a contract with Sir Hamilton Wright to purchase an Olmec jade mask. The museum sent the down payment; however, the wrong item was sent. Sir Wright is not demanding the rest of the payment. Shirley Johnson is a legal counsel for the museum.

Save your files as a Word document (.doc or .docx) using the following naming convention to name your document: ‘First Name, Last Name – C7L2.doc’.

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