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Edward T. Kang, left, and Kandis Kovalsky, right, of Kang Haggerty & Fetbroyt.

In a recent annual Federal Bench Bar Conference in Philadelphia, a U.S. District Court judge warned of the perils of allowing clients to perform their own data and document collection. As the judge wisely pointed out, this can be problematic as the lawyers owe a duty to the court to represent truthfully and accurately. If, for example, a client performed the data collection without proper supervision, the lawyer could not accurately represent that all responsive documents have been collected and produced. The 2015 amendments to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 provide dire consequences for failing to preserve electronically stored information (ESI), including monetary sanctions, dismissal of a claim, judgment in favor of the prejudiced party, suppression of evidence and adverse inference instructions. The recent changes to Federal Rule of Evidence 902, which addresses self-authenticating evidence, and is routinely relied on by civil trial lawyers, raises additional concerns with clients performing their own data collection.

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