Few aspects of litigation cause more concern for businesses today than the rapidly changing impact of information management and electronic discovery, which can add an additional layer of complexity to litigation. Not only is the law regarding electronic discovery largely uncharted in many jurisdictions, but related technology, which always outpaces the law, is constantly developing.
Rapidly Changing Landscape of Technology and Law
Our clients face varying and often untested standards across different jurisdictions regarding electronic discovery in their litigation matters—many states still have not adopted procedural rule, and those that have vary significantly in the duties they impose on litigants. Worse still, many rules are new and lack interpretive case law. Even within the federal court system, standards and expectations vary from circuit to circuit. Effectively managing electronic discovery, in cases of all sizes, in a manner that fulfills duties imposed on counsel and serves our clients is among the biggest challenges litigators face today.
Keep the Focus on the Merits of the Case
Christian & Small’s Electronic Discovery Practice Group serves the firm’s clients by keeping the focus of the litigation on the merits of the case rather than allowing the matter to devolve into one discovery dispute after another. The single most expensive aspect of litigation is electronic discovery—it is also the most likely aspect of litigation to break client budgets. Our clients’ cases should not be driven by electronic discovery—cases should be driven by their merits, the strategy formulated for handling the matter, and the client’s goals.
Attorneys at Christian & Small develop cases effectively and efficiently toward whatever resolution best serves the client, rather than allowing resources to be distracted by endless discovery disputes and efforts that do not advance those interests.
Properly Manage – a project within a project
Electronic discovery must be comprehensively managed as its own cohesive project, within the context of the litigation. Properly managed, electronic discovery can serve the client, focus the litigation, and remain cost-effective. From defensible preservation efforts, data collection and processing, to analysis and production, management of the client’s discovery efforts should meet the client’s expectations and serve the client’s goals. Opportunities such as discovery requests and meet and confer efforts allow the Practice Group to keep the litigation focused by reducing attention on the distractions presented by electronic discovery cases.
The result of proper discovery project management is faster, better, cheaper, and in the end, hardly noticed.
J. Paul Zimmerman
Paul’s experience in the courtroom provides the Firm’s clients with electronic discovery services that impact the outcome of the clients’ cases. Paul’s focus far exceeds the critical tasks of collection, processing, and production of electronic evidence. Paul’s experience as a trial attorney guides his work in the Firm’s electronic discovery group by focusing on what is ultimately important in electronic discovery—the admission of collected evidence in court. At the same time, Paul recognizes that electronic discovery drains his client’s resources and works to drive cases in the most efficient, but advantageous, manner. As a member of the Firm’s electronic discovery practice group and technology committee, Paul works with the Firm’s clients to keep the focus on the merits of the case rather than allowing discovery issues to take over the budget.
Edgar M. elliott, IV
Eddie has more than 25 years of litigation experience and delivers the highest quality legal services in a lean and economical manner. Eddie served as lead counsel for a life insurer accused of fraud in the sale of its life insurance policies. After exhaustive and highly disputed discovery, Eddie successfully negotiated a satisfactory resolution of statewide litigation for the insurer. Most recently, Eddie served as national coordinating counsel and liaison counsel in a pharmaceutical drug litigation, pending in federal and state courts.
Eddie is experienced and knowledgeable in strategically planning for and preparing a case for trial and when necessary, for trying the matter. Eddie is well versed in the role discovery plays and the multitude of issues involved.
Aubrey J. Holloway
Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese general and author of The Art of War, insisted that most battles were won or lost before they were ever fought. This adage holds especially true in the modern era of e-Discovery. As a litigator for 25 years (with over 100 cases tried to conclusion as first chair or sole counsel), and being a former General Counsel to a mortgage bank and specialty insurance broker, Jay knows all too well the importance of advanced planning when faced with large discovery requests from opponents in litigated matters or from regulatory agencies. He applies his litigation and corporate experience in proactively and diligently crafting an e-Discovery plan to place a client in a winning position from the beginning by setting the rules of the e-Discovery battle.
The plan is only part of a winning strategy, though, and Jay’s background gives him the experience to execute that plan to facilitate its effectiveness through each stage of the overall litigation strategy, maintain the defensibility of the e-Discovery process in response to motions to compel and motions for sanctions, and to ensure the identification of privileged material and defend challenges to privilege logs.
Kathryn H. Rowan
Kathryn has over 15 years project management experience in regulatory matters and more recently for complex litigation. While discovery is critical for all cases, electronic document production involves additional issues that must be considered from the beginning and managed throughout the process in order to properly and efficiently respond to electronic discovery requests. Preservation of electronically stored information along with balancing the cost, burden and need for retrieving, reviewing and producing electronically stored information are vital for proper management of the process.
Deborah Alley Smith, Managing Partner
Debbie brings experience in properly preserving and developing issues for appellate review and getting those issues decided by the appellate courts. In relation to ediscovery this is important because the law is very unsettled and there are few reported decisions on ediscovery issues, so Debbie’s expertise will allow our clients to be on the cutting edge of developing and settling the law on ediscovery in the appellate courts.
David B. Walston
David brings 25 years of experience in litigation, administrative and regulatory matters to the e-discovery process. For example, employment litigation can be extremely document intensive. If it is determined that a policy that negatively impacts a protected class, it is necessary to do discovery for everyone in that class – even if only one claimant.
David believes that strongly influencing the direction of the e-discovery process is vital to the defense of or response to any matter. The ability to direct e-discovery requires early identification of e-discovery materials that could be subject to production, materials that need to be shielded from production, and materials that need to be sought from the other parties.