Jeffrey Wolff, IPRO: What is ESI? A Lawyer’s Guide to Digital Records Management

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Extract from Jeffrey Wolff’s article “What is ESI? A Lawyer’s Guide to Digital Records Management”


The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that by 2025, the world will have 175 zettabytes of digital data—which, if stored on DVDs, would create a stack tall enough to circle the earth 222 times. As organizations accumulate higher volumes of data, broadly known as electronically stored information or ESI, corporate legal teams and law firms must adapt their management and collection strategies to keep pace.

In this post, we’ll talk about what electronically stored information is and explain how it relates to records management. We’ll also take a look at the different types of ESI, where organizations store it, and what the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have to say about it. Finally, we’ll explore ways that organizations and law firms can better manage ESI and how modern technology can help.

What is ESI?

Electronically stored information (ESI) covers any digital data—including digital documents, spreadsheets, digital video or audio recordings, and much more—that may contain information that’s relevant to a case. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), parties must disclose all potentially relevant sources of evidence, digital or otherwise, as part of the eDiscovery process. This means parties must understand what ESI they have and know where to find it and how to preserve, collect, review, and produce it.

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