eDiscovery Daily Blog

Requesting Discovery in the Modern Age – eDiscovery Best Practices


Leave it to Craig Ball to break down requests for production of electronically stored information (ESI) in a simple and straightforward manner.

In his new article on Law Technology News (Modern E-Discovery Requests), he describes six “challenges” to “help litigators lose the boilerplate and write requests as sleek and modern as ESI itself”.

The article describes the challenges, and Craig provides some excellent examples to illustrate best practices.  Here are the challenges:

CHALLENGE 1: The definition of "document" must give way to an alternate term like "information."  Let’s face it, much of the information requested in discovery today doesn’t fit the traditional “document” format (e.g., videos, Facebook posts, texts, “tweets”, etc.).  As Craig notes, it’s not necessary to attempt to list them all and possibly miss one – the term “information” is sufficient.  Craig provides a simple example sentence here that conveys a concise, but effective way to request “information” in the request.

CHALLENGE 2: In practice, the catchalls "any and all" and "including, but not limited to" rarely serve to broaden the scope of a request, but they're lightning rods for objection.  Again, Craig provides examples verbiage that addresses the “any and all” coverage in the preface to obviate the need to cover it in each individual request.

CHALLENGE 3: When you define a term and either fail to use it or use an undefined variant, your request broadcasts your reliance on forms—it's easy to show you haven't customized your request to the case.  In other words, make sure that each request is customized and not boilerplate with regard to definition of terms.

CHALLENGE 4: Many requests fail to specify the forms sought for ESI production. Specifying "native format" isn't much better.  Specify forms of production sensibly and precisely. Don't assume that "native format" is clear or sufficient; instead, specify the formats sought for common file types.  Craig provides an excellent chart of the most common file types by file extension.

CHALLENGE 5: A well-crafted request should designate the medium of ESI production as well as the forms of production.  In other words, provide language that addresses the appropriate media for the size of production.  Again, Craig provides example wording that covers appropriate media for different sizes of productions.

CHALLENGE 6: Every electronic file has a complement of descriptive information called system metadata residing in the file table of the system or device storing the file. Different file types have different metadata… Develop a comprehensive production protocol tailored to the case and serve same with discovery. Short of that, specify the particular items of metadata and header fields you seek.  Once again, Craig provides an excellent example list of general fields to request, as well as those specific to email messages.

The examples that Craig provides are excellent illustrations of best practices for production requests and well worth checking out.  To view Craig’s article, click here.

So, what do you think?  How do you structure your production requests?   Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine Discovery. eDiscoveryDaily is made available by CloudNine Discovery solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscoveryDaily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.