The Amended FRCP is all About Focusing on what Really Matters

The 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure essentially forced attorneys to focus on what matters from the beginning in order to avoid the runaway costs and judicial time of an all-out fishing expedition into extraneous evidence in the world of big data.
Part of the problem is caused by the fact that most attorneys who conduct discovery these days have never tried a case and that’s because most, if not all, cases now settle. In the past, attorneys conducted their own discovery and tried the case as well.
Trial practice helps attorneys learn how to focus on the core evidence from the beginning and more importantly when to stop further discovery. With very few cases going to trial these days, the courts realized that instead of trials becoming a means to an end, discovery was taking the place of trials.
Proportionality requires attorneys to think about phasing discovery and ask the important question at each phase; do I have enough evidence to support my legal theory in the case and if not, why not. If not, then what do I need and how much will it cost to complete discovery.
The end game is for counsel to narrow the scope of discovery as much as possible, mobilize resources quickly, and all discovery responses should be as specific as possible.
The hardest part of the discovery process is hitting the stop button. The stopping point used to be reached when the client starts to push back on billing or the case settled. Now the courts are forcing counsel to focus their discovery or it will hit the stop button for them.
To be efficient and effective requires a combination of three essential ingredients – legal expertise, knowledge of technology and a having a defensible process. What complicates this is multiple buyers and sellers in the discovery process with pricing models that can give you a headache. The fast pace of technology puts the vendor in a much stronger position to advise and manage the technology process of discovery.
As one who has been on both the law firm side as a first chair trial attorney and vendor side as a strategic consultant, I firmly believe that lean and mean discovery requires a strong partnership between vendor and law firm. Counsel should concentrate on delivering legal expertise and the vendor on managing and advising on the technology and process.