Questions for Your Meet and Confer:
The complexity of your meet and confer varies widely based on your case, litigation history, and scope of the requested discovery. While small cases don’t usually require the infrastructure and complex planning of large e-discovery procedures, it can still be challenging for smaller firms or clients with limited resources. Here are some questions for your meet and confer.
The goal of your meet and confer (when resolution isn’t possible) is to develop a discovery and reviewal plan that is aligned with the financial and workforce needs of all parties involved.
Meet and Confer Requests
To effectively create a discovery plan that is aligned with your firm’s budgetary and other limitations, you must make specific requests from opposing counsel during your meet and confer conference:
- Discovery Plan Specifics: On a broad scale, this is the primary goal when resolution can’t be reached. The idea behind this meeting is to help litigators narrow down their discovery to the essential elements, allowing legal teams to perform discovery with greater precision and prevent unnecessary wasting of resources.
- Request Data Preservation: When litigation is near, legal teams have a duty to preserve all evidence that may be relevant to the case. During your meet and confer, verify with opposing counsel the importance of this step to prevent accidental (or intentional) loss of data.
- Technology Infrastructure: Assess your client’s technology structure. In the interest of efficiency and reducing client costs, legal firms will need to know their client’s IT capabilities, document retention systems, and methods of storing or transmitting electronically stored information (ESI). All of this information must be kept in mind when discussing file specifications with opposing counsel.
- Document Types: Counsel must specify what file types must be produced by the opposition during the meet and confer. Find out what review platform opposing counsel is using, what file types are compatible with each, and whether or not they will be digitally searchable.
- Searchability: Litigators must understand how paper documents and ESI are searchable. Hard copies must be scanned and analyzed with optical character recognition (OCR). Legal teams must specify that scanned paper files include OCR or text extraction to make them searchable during discovery.
- Metadata Specifications: Metadata protocols for ESI should be agreed upon, including guidelines for what metadata fields and descriptions are necessary on each document type.
- Document Privilege: Protocols for privileged documents must be discussed—including procedures for possible privilege review and assessments of privilege logs. Privilege review can be a lengthy and costly process, particularly when privilege review is requested after the fact.
Of course, there’s more to discovery than gathering data during your meet and confer. Once you have the documents, your firm must have an efficient way to organize, analyze, and review ESI.
The Reviewal Process
ESI is reviewed with legal review software for e-Discovery and document management (such as IPRO Eclipse or Relativity), both for files received and files produced. This reviewal software allows for streamlined searching and categorization of legal documents for effective use during discovery and for litigation support.
Legal firms must understand their specifications of their review platform to let opposing counsel know what kind of format they must apply to their produced documents. This has become a growing concern as the legal world transitions to digital—the wide variety of applications, digital platforms, and file types make increased specificity necessary for an efficient document review.
The meet and confer process has a reputation for being an uneventful waste of time, but in reality is the perfect opportunity to streamline your discovery plan. Determine the capabilities of your legal team and opposing counsel to plan your discovery in an efficient and cost-effective way.
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