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The sight of some 20 million pages of discovery documents is enough to make a tree-hugger cry. But think of the grief a litigator must feel when faced with having to read all those documents. Daniel Johnson Jr. is the Fenwick & West partner facing that task. He’s in charge of a massive intellectual property dispute that has gobbled up enough paper to make a forest. “The numbers keep growing,” Johnson said. “I was in there yesterday and heard there were 15 million, 23 million, 31 million [pages]. So who knows? Either way, it’s a lot of documents.” So far, Fenwick has had to build 20,000 square feet of new shelf space to house the documents for the dispute, Compuware Corp. v. International Business Machines Corp., 02-70906. The case, filed in March 2002, is in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Fenwick’s client, Compuware, alleges IBM is using Compuware’s source code in a line of products. Compuware also accuses IBM of being a monopoly and using its dominance to hinder competition. A hearing on Compuware’s motion for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for June, and Johnson is bracing for even more documents. Snowing your opponent with paper is a standard litigation tactic. The practice even played a key role in the film “Class Action,” which starred Gene Hackman as a plaintiffs lawyer up against his daughter, a corporate defense litigator. And IBM is famous for providing plenty of documentation, Johnson said, so he planned for it. “There is much more coordination than you would use on a regular case,” Johnson said. Johnson divided up the case among the partners in ways that would make document storage manageable. The litigators also drafted extra hands to help with cataloguing and copying the material and putting the pages into binders. IBM supplies its discovery material on compact disks, and Fenwick pays several companies to transfer the data onto paper. One day last November, one of the companies pulled up in a U-Haul van with 250 boxes of documents. Fenwick’s management gave Compuware’s litigation team an award for innovation during the firm’s annual dinner last month because of its handling of the documents. For the senior paralegal in charge of the case, Trish Majidian, the Compuware case is a behemoth compared to usual matters — and it’s far more hectic. “Every day, I walk in and say ‘it will be better today,’ and it usually takes 15 minutes before I realize that it’s to be just like yesterday,” Majidian said. “Normally, you assign different shelves to different things,” she added, “and here, we’ve assigned different rooms to different things.”

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