Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One week until Oral Argument on FL E-Discovery Rules

The Supreme Court of Florida, which has the final say on state civil procedure rules, will hear oral argument next week, on March 7, 2012, in Tallahassee. No date has been set for when the rules would become effective. The proposed rules are a compromise between the views of urban lawyers, who urged adoption, and those in rural areas who see no need for change in the existing rules of civil procedure.

“Small firms and solo practitioners think these rules are for the big firms and big cases, but it will affect everyone,” says attorney Lawrence Kolin, of Winter Park, who chaired the e-discovery rules subcommittee before Johnson.

A learning curve will impact the state’s 93,000 licensed attorneys, of which 63,000 actively practice law, especially those unfamiliar with e-discovery. They stress a proactive approach to discovery and allow the parties to request a non-mandatory early case management conference.

The federal rules and court decisions addressing e-discovery can guide the state’s lawyers and judges as they begin to walk through the risky, expensive issues that electronic evidence entails. Except for the case management conference, which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure requires at 26(f), the proposed Florida rules track their federal counterparts in large measure. The new rules do provide for a state court case management discussion on ESI under Rule 1.200.

Big law and big business is counterbalanced by a large and diverse community of small firms and sole practitioners, many in rural area where law is practiced as it was decades ago. This complexion factored in the final content of the rules and the discussions surrounding them.

“The question I heard most is ‘where is this stuff on the bar exam?’” Kolin says, noting that small firms and practitioners were the most vociferous opponents.

See full ACEDS article here: