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Project: Deliverables Standards

Project Status

Project Starting up Now

Project Team

Executive Sponsor:  TBD

Project Leader: 


Problem or Issue

The concept of a "meet and confer" process is designed to avoid poor outcomes, such as avoidable expense, litigation about non-merits issues, or adjudication based on incomplete facts.  The rules do not state a minimum standard of what issues need to be addressed in the 26(f) conference.  Too often, there is an imbalance in technical sophistication of the parties and/or tribunal, or no meeting of the minds in terms of how adversarial the discovery negotiation process should be.  As a result, the mandatory meet and confer can hinder, rather than expedite, the just, speedy, and inexpensive resolution of a matter. 

In cases where the parties and tribunal lack necessary technical sophistication, the meet and confer can be a perfunctory check list item where the participants' failure to anticipate foreseeable issues and how to resolve them leads to expensive judicial intervention.  In other cases where one party has much greater relative sophistication, inequitable outcomes can result that have no connection to a case's merits simply because one party has shrewdly exploited technicalities.  In either scenario, agreements can be reached that are either unworkable or that miss the real discovery issues the conference is expected to address, to the detriment of the litigants and general perceptions of justice.

Every case is different, and even sophisticated counsel cannot continue to assume that their standard production formats or protocols will work effectively in every case or over the entire time span of a complex matter.  Issues, law, facts, and even technological capabilities may change over the life of the case.  Problems and solutions may be very technical or high-level and legal. 

Purpose/Objective/Goal/Expected Benefit

A template that addresses baseline issues can set the stage for a robust, easy to navigate set of protocols for virtually every case.  Our challenge is to spot foreseeable issues sounding in technical, legal, procedural, and logistical areas, and recommend objective protocols and solutions for handling them;  or discussing which best practices to utilize to handle these issue with a minimum of expense and burden to any party.

Some areas of focus for setting deliverables practice standards may include:

  • Determining format of production based on volume, capabilities, and timing constraints (e.g. online vs physical media)
  • Data fidelity and forensic cleanliness considerations in deliverables, such as wiping production media and outputting text to valid character sets (UTF8 etc.)
  • How to address initially de-duplicated ESI or other suppressed but relevant content
  • Deliverable usability considerations considering volume of media, means of transmission / shipping, capabilities of a receiving party, and legal compliance requirements
  • Security of productions and protective orders to deal with issues of confidentiality and privilege
  • Special data handling obligations, such as those required by ITAR, case protective orders, or data privacy requirements
  • How to deal with non-standard data typesProcess to deal with unexpected production issues

    Deliverable/Success Criteria

    Templates with clear guidelines for use which allow legal professionals of varying technical knowledge to actively and more effectively participate in the meet & confer process when negotiating deliverables standards.

    Scope and Constraints of the Project

    This project will develop the initial framework and templates, and a reasonable set of generally accepted deliverables standards rather than an exhaustive set. We will also develop a process for developing and vetting additional standards as they may become needed in the future. The initial framework and standards will be limited to those applicable in the US legal system and will not address standards that may be applicable in other international jurisdictions. 

    Some of the project specific skills that would be helpful include:

    • EDiscovery expertise with a focus on the litigation process
    • Experience with conducting meet and confers and negotiating ESI protocols is invaluable.
    • In-the-trenches knowledge generating client deliverables, with a broad breadth client facing experience
    • Experience with platforms or software that creates productions / deliverables
    • Deep working of metadata issues that can occur within productions
    • Functionality of the production datasets (usable metadata, OCR etc.)

    We are seeking a project leader (SME) and 5-10 volunteers to join us now.

      Applicable across all projects we need volunteers who have:

      • Strong communication & organization skills
      • Writing for a non-legal & non-technical audience
      • Ability to follow meeting schedules and meet project deadlines

      If you would like to work on this project, please send an email to programs@legaltechpi.org indicating your interest and expertise. We look forward to hearing from you.

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