October 11, 2012, the OBA held its well-attended E-Discovery Institute conference. The sessions included a number of interesting discovery and technology topics, including a panel on Meet and Confer sessions. This particular group gave rise to a timely debate about whether clients have a rightful place at the table.
The panel’s position was that taking clients to Meet and Confer sessions is a bad idea. Its impression was that clients do not want to attend such meetings, and that their presence may disclose case strategy or otherwise be a hindrance to the process.
We respectfully disagree. In our experience, to be meaningful, Meet and Confer sessions require transparency. These meetings are a valuable opportunity to narrow the scope of discovery, reach agreement on key terms, and reduce the overall costs of the discovery phase.
Having your client at the table increases transparency, as well as the quality of the discussions necessary to reach agreement on the terms of a discovery plan. Who better than your client to identify the information and people that are potentially relevant to a case?
While having your client at the Meet and Confer table may not work in every circumstance, we encourage you to think openly about including them whenever possible.