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Take note, federal court practitioners: The Northern District of California really wants you to play nice when it comes to e-discovery.
The district on Tuesday unveiled new guidelines for handling electronic discovery, joining a growing list of jurisdictions taking measures to tackle the issue.
The local approach, which emphasizes cooperation between parties, combines flexible guidelines, a checklist for practitioners to use in discussions over e-discovery, and a three-page model order addressing the preservation and production of electronically stored information.
The idea was to provide practitioners with tools "to focus them on what's important and head off unnecessary disputes," said U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte of San Francisco, who chaired the bench-bar committee that developed the guidelines.
Laporte said the group tried to create tools that would be flexible enough to address a wide variety of cases and could adapt as technology evolves.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu of Oakland also took part in the group, which included members of the defense and plaintiffs bar, an in-house lawyer and a representative of the U.S. attorney's office. They worked on it for more than one year.
The guidelines require parties to discuss the preservation of electronically stored information, or ESI, at the outset of litigation and to continue discussing e-discovery topics at routine meet-and-confer sessions. In most cases, lawyers are advised to appoint a liaison who will become familiar with the technical aspects of e-discovery.
A checklist which can be printed on one double-sided page identifies useful discussion topics ranging from what categories of electronic information should be preserved to how the parties can share costs.
"The court expects cooperation on issues relating to the preservation, collection, search, review and production of ESI," states one guideline. "The court notes that an attorney's zealous representation of a client is not compromised by conducting discovery in a cooperative manner."
The new guidelines come amid corporate clamoring over the burden and expense of e-discovery, which can require companies to retain and make available vast quantities of electronic information.