Helpful Tips

How do I start?

In Pittsburgh I approached the Honorable Joy Conti from the W.D. of PA. who was already embracing electronic discovery education. We found that by having a judge involved in the program that lawyers were interested in attending. The Honorable Nora Fischer also provided support as did Judges Art Schwab and Terrence McVerry. If you can find a judge who is at least interested in electronic discovery, then getting good attendance is much easier to have happen.

When should meetings occur?

In Pittsburgh we have always scheduled events around breakfast. Typically 8 – 8:30AM is a social period to network. Then we talk for an hour and end sharply at 9:30AM. Meetings I have attended as a guest in Cincinnati and Columbus seem to be at lunch time.

What do you talk about at the meetings?

Initial meetings we ran asked the attendees what issues they thought were most important. We had meetings were we ranked the most common answers and discussed them. We have had presentations on recent cases followed by group discussions such as Pension Committee followed by a conversation/debate on legal holds. We had Tom Allman come in from out of town and talk about whether the group thinks the federal rules should be amended to provide a uniform standard on spoliation as well as better guidance on preservation burdens. Our next meeting will concern search and retrieval techniques. There are many possible topics that can be covered.

Are the meetings confidential?

We do start every meeting by making it clear the communications in the meeting are to be treated as confidential. We never mention names of organizations or speakers when we talk about what we learned in the meetings to others. However, general guidance should can be sought in the meetings as long as the communications do not violate rules on ex parte communications with judges or violate any privileges.

Do you have plaintiffs attend?

Thus far in Pittsburgh we have not. We might have a special session in the future. Other groups have. My personal concern is the goal is to foster open discussions about issues. When the attendees all have common problems with retrieving and preserving information, they are more apt to be open when the other attendees share their pain. Over time, I am sure there will be more intermixing of the two camps given the growing acceptance of The Sedona Conference’s Cooperation Proclamation.

What should we cover at our meetings of Friends of E-Discovery?

If you want to avoid reinventing the wheel, scroll through the calendar page and you will see entries for past Friends of E-Discovery Events with descriptions of what was covered. You can quickly see some of the topics which you might want to cover as well as the format of the presentation. Feel free to reach out to the group which did the presentation to see if there are any materials they can share. This takes all of 5 minutes time to get a quick overview.

How do I list my chapter of Friends of E-Discovery on the calendar of events?

Contact Karl Schieneman to coordinate your local e-discovery event and identify a contact person in your community who can be listed on the website.

How do you set the next meeting?

Some groups set the next meeting at the end of the meeting. I used to do it by coordinating with Judge Conti on open dates about 6 weeks before I wanted to schedule a meeting. Lately, I have moved the approach to standardize meetings on the same day of the week every third month at 8AM – 9:30AM.

Can out of town visitors attend?

The benefit of the group is the comfort felt from talking with neighbors who can be seen on a frequent basis. My personal opinion is some out of town attendance is not a bad thing as long as they add value. Friends of E-Discovery members can bring back ideas to their local groups based on attending. If an out of town person can bring a local electronic discovery person to a meeting that adds value. Sometimes out of town visitors might have national backgrounds and can present topics. But the goal of the group and its uniqueness is its local flavor.

Do you have to call your group Friends of E-Discovery to be listed on the website?

There are other groups who serve similar functions. Judge Facciola has met in the past with Washington, DC based lawyers. Dan Regard has BDiscovery meetings over drinks. Since there are no dues and no infrastructure, then naming groups the same things is not required.

Who handles administrative tasks such as running the meeting and planning topics?

It helps to have a volunteer. That was me in Pittsburgh. However, after a few events, I began asking others to help out. Right now we have an informal group of 4 who represent the past three hosts and the current host of an event. If anyone has concerns about an issue or wants to discuss the topic or proposed questions, then it is helpful to have someone to bounce these thoughts off of. I think other cities have similar structures. But at a minimum, it helps to have a local contact who agrees to try and keep the group active. I perform that role in Pittsburgh and if others want to be listed on the website, then I would ask that someone from that group provide me with an email address to list on the site.

What do Hosts do?

Hosts provide a room and some refreshments. To date law firms have hosted the majority of events. However, the federal court hosted an event. If a company hosted an event, we might waive the requirement to provide refreshments and have everyone pay a donation at the door.

Why have a national website if the group is voluntary and locally based?

I think it is helpful to provide guidance and advice to others who want to start similar groups. I have found this to be a very useful forum for teaching and learning more about electronic discovery. I also get asked by people how to set up similar groups in other cities. I hope this site can provide a sort of open source road map to anyone who is interested.

Do you have to attend every meeting?

Absolutely not. We are all busy. Plus I always like to joke that it is unlikely that we will solve e-discovery at any one meeting. But we are able to set a form of local standards which make our communities better able to function. Many of the participants have attended most of the meetings. Others travel frequently so it is harder to attend. But by attending, you learn of others in your community who share a passionate for the field. There is nothing stopping anyone from then picking up the phone and calling each other to ask questions.

Podcast that Pete Pepiton, Doug Matthews and Karl Schieneman did on ESIBytes last year about Friends of EDiscovery called Local E-Discovery Tools

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Special thanks to Karl Schieneman of Review Less, LLC for providing content and Tony Marmo of Marmo Technology, LLC for sponsoring this website.