Thursday, April 26, 2012

Neutrals may ease anxiety over Florida’s new E-discovery rules

This podcast featuring my commentary just in from an interview with the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) Editorial Director, Robert Hilson: On March 7, the Florida Supreme Court heard argument on proposed E-discovery rules for state cases, the first such rules for the fourth largest state. The court has put them on fast track, and could approve them by the end of the year. The rules will affect the state’s diverse legal and corporate community and its 63,000 active attorneys. They aim to streamline case management, but they will also impose unfamiliar burdens on practitioners who are new to e-discovery. Neutral third parties, such as special masters, mediators and referees, may be able to assist in these instances. These so-called “neutrals” can shape discovery plans, allocate costs and suggest and create efficiencies that did not exist. Their services are not limited to grappling with old or new rules, or to discovery disputes. Lawrence Kolin, an Orlando lawyer and full-time mediator, chaired the Florida Bar committee that helped craft the e-discovery rules the Supreme Court is considering. In this ACEDS podcast, he tells how neutrals can help litigants navigate e-discovery pitfalls and resolve expensive battles before they arise. “I try to focus parties on the merits and try to get them off using e-discovery as a sword or shield,” says Kolin. “Mediation is an avenue that can present parties with significant cost-savings if performed early enough in the litigation.”
Podcast introduction:
Listen to .mp3 here:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

ACEDS 2012 and Florida's Forthcoming Rules

I spent the last couple of days at the national annual conference of the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS). There were many vendors, attorneys and even court personnel attending. Of particular interest was a pilot program developed by Clerk of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Robert Barth. That court has identified special masters and e-neutrals as fulfilling the need to effectively address issues presented by the preservation, collection and production of relevant Electronically Stored Information (ESI) during the litigation process. The parties in those cases reportedly benefit from the appointment of Electronic Discovery Special Masters (EDSMs) in appropriate cases. Any findings of fact or conclusions of law reached by the EDSM will be presented to the court as a report and recommendation, to which the parties will have the opportunity to object, prior to a de novo review by the court (see details at -  Florida's draft rules do include a case management topic of optional appointment of special magistrates in the event such issues need to be referred.  This was discussed during an ACEDS panel I served on with my successor on the Florida Civil Rules Committee, Kevin Johnson. We also spoke on the likelihood of a decision from the Supreme Court of Florida concerning the proposed amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and any time frame for implementation. Given the largely friendly reception during oral argument, it appears adoption of the language is imminent, but the forthcoming opinion could delay the effective date of the rules, given the Court's concern for educating the bench and bar.