While the U.S. Federal Rules of Procedure (amended in 2006) provide meaningful guidance to parties and their counsel in federal court, e-discovery rules at the state level, described as “underdeveloped and uneven” have left lawyers “lost” in the area of e-discovery.
The New York State Bar Association has come to the rescue with comprehensive, practical e-discovery guidelines. These 14 guidelines, among the first of their kind at the state level, were designed to assist counsel in navigating the complex world of electronically stored information, and to prevent inadvertent spoliation.
The guidelines place considerable emphasis on preservation and legal holds. Given the number of spoliation cases in the state, perhaps this focus is understandable. Other aspects covered include the reduction of e-discovery costs through appropriate retention and collection strategies, and the importance of counsel understanding their client’s technology. Notably, there is a significant focus throughout the guidelines on the use of electronic tools, and counsel’s responsibility to understand and utilize technology.
While these guidelines do not deviate from known best practices for discovery, they are written in plain English and are very practical. Notwithstanding different rules of procedure in Canada, they have utility for Canadian lawyers as well. We will watch with interest as decisions emerge under these new guidelines.