This is the 4th and final blog in a multi-part blog discussing various critical requirements that can serve as the road map to allow a lawyer to fulfill his/her duty of technological competence. [Click here to read Part 1, here to read Part 2, and here to read Part 3].

You have assessed the discovery needs of your matter, implemented appropriate preservation mechanisms to prevent spoliation concerns, and studied your client’s electronic information systems and the ways in which data is stored therein.  Now, it is time to collect the potentially relevant ESI.  At this juncture, I would consider working with someone who brings to the table a depth of technical knowledge that allows for a forensically sound collection of ESI.  Whether that involves retaining an ESI vendor, partnering with an in-house team, or retaining ESI counsel, it is important that you work with someone knowledgeable.  This is because the metadata can very easily and inadvertently be altered during the collection process.

You may have heard the term “metadata” before, but are not exactly sure what it is.  Often people think metadata is “data about data.”  And, while that is technically correct, what does that mean?    I often equate metadata with the fingerprint of a given electronic file.  It tells you the who, what, when, and where about the file, along with other unique information.  For example, every time you take a photo with today’s cameras, metadata is gathered and saved with it including the photo’s date and time, filename, camera settings and geolocation.  Likewise, every email you send or receive has a number of metadata fields, many of which are hidden in the message header and not visible to you in your mail client. This metadata includes, among other things, the subject, from, to, date and time sent, sending and receiving server names and IPs, format (plain text or HTML), anti-spam software details.  Capturing, without altering, the various pieces of metadata associated with a file is important when you perform your ESI collection.  And, if not handled correctly, the collection can be forever compromised (i.e., the entire collection of emails effectuated on 2/12/19 now has that date as their sent date, when in actuality they were sent on various dates over the course of many years).  You can understand why this inadvertent alteration could have lasting impact on a litigation.

When it comes to the mechanics of collecting the ESI there are many questions to be asked including whether to “self-collect” or engage a vendor?  There are also decisions to be made as to whether to image an entire data source (i.e., hard drives) or perform a targeted collection?  Is an “onsite” collection necessary (it is often exponentially more costly)?  Or can the data be collected “remotely” (i.e., wherein the individual collecting the data remotely accesses the computer/device housing the data)?  At the end of the day, the two most important questions to ask yourself are:  (1) is your intended collection methodology going to allow for a defensible and sound collection?  And, (2) is the data, now collected, (and even during collection) encrypted and secure?   Once the data is defensibly collected and stored securely, the review process for purposes of production (and building your case) begins.

Have questions?  Please contact me at kcole@farrellfritz.com.

This is Part 3 in a multi-part blog discussing various critical requirements that can serve as the road map to allow a lawyer to fulfill his/her duty of technological competence. [Click here to read Part 1 and here to read Part 2]..

After you have assessed the discovery needs and issues in a given matter, and you have implemented appropriate preservation mechanisms, an advisable next step is to analyze and understand your client’s electronic information systems and the ways in which that data is stored.

Because each organization implements its own combination of hardware (enterprise servers, local desktops, departmental servers, hand-held devices) and software (the Microsoft Suite, Salesforce Business, Zoho One), this may be a good time to consult with a technical expert.  Indeed, if the client has an in-house IT team, it is critical to coordinate efforts with that team.  They will be able to educate you on what data exists, where it resides, and for what period of time.  This information will allow the attorney to assess the ESI that exists in the context of the legal scope and likely discovery obligations.  It may also be worth the expense of retaining a third-party vendor depending on the circumstances of the case, and the client’s in-house abilities.  If you don’t fully understand the systems in place, the way in which data is stored in those systems, and for how long, you run the risk of overlooking sources of potentially relevant ESI.  You also run the risk of committing to your adversary to produce data that, for example, has not existed for the last 6 months because of the client’s auto-deletion policy.

Have questions?  Please contact me at kcole@farrellfritz.com.

This is Part 2 in a multi-part blog discussing various core requirements that can serve as the road map to allow a lawyer to fulfill his/her duty of technological competence. [Click here to read Part 1]

2.  Implement Appropriate Preservation Procedures

ESI spoliation remains a real issue that lawyers must confront.  The best way to prevent spoliation is to take deliberate and prompt preservation steps.

So, the first question to ask yourself is has my duty to preserve data arisen?  While different jurisdictions have different rules, the federal standard, and the one New York subscribes to, was announced in Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC (“Zubulake IV”), 220 F.R.D. 212, 218 (S.D.N.Y. 2003).  That case stands for the proposition that one’s duty to preserve potentially relevant information begins “once a party reasonably anticipates litigation.”

Assuming your duty to preserve has been triggered, now what?

A lawyer must issue an effective litigation hold notice.  I have written previously on how to draft an effective hold [See Litigation Hold Notices Should Not Cloak the Recipient with Discretion Over What Documents to Preserve, Practical Tips For an Effective Litigation Hold Notice, and Your Litigation Hold Must Be Generally Broad and Specifically Tailored] and refer you to those posts, but note it is critically important that the Hold is clear, comprehensive and provides a resource for questions.  Minimally it should provide custodians with detailed instructions on what they are expected to do upon receipt of the Hold; and ensure that the Hold sets forth the specifics of what information must be preserved, thus limiting any discretion vested in the recipients of the Hold.  Additionally, prior to issuance, an attorney must identify which custodians/entities are receiving the Hold; what third-parties over whom the client has practical control, if any, should receive the Hold; and what procedures will you implement to audit compliance with the Hold.

Have questions?  Please contact me at kcole@farrellfritz.com.

 

The role of electronically stored information (“ESI”) and new technologies has grown tremendously in recent years.  This growth has a direct impact on discovery specifically, and the practice of law, generally.   And so, the new practical reality is that attorneys need to be technologically literate and competent.  This should come as no surprise to those who read my blog.  Earlier posts discuss the ABA’s implementation of Model Rule 1.1. – which establishes a lawyer’s general duty of competence, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology – and others discuss other states’ explicit technology CLE requirement.

While New York does not have any technology CLE requirement (yet), it has adopted a technology competence for lawyers (along with 27 other states).  What exactly must a lawyer do to fulfill his/her duty of technology competence for e-discovery?  Regrettably, there is no easy answer, but a 2015 ethics opinion from California provides a very useful roadmap and identifies nine core requirements necessary to fulfill one’s duty.   Today’s blog will discuss one of those core requirements, with subsequent blogs to address the others.

  1. Assess E-Discovery Needs and Issues:

This first requirement mandates that an attorney take a long-view of the matter he or she is dealing with (sometimes in consultation with an ESI vendor) and identify e-discovery needs and issues.  Topics to consider include identifying the custodians (i.e., sources of potentially responsive ESI) and identifying any time-sensitive sources, any employee status changes, and/or IT upgrades.  Also give thought to whether third-parties within your effective control have potentially responsive information.  Think about privilege concerns and the import of a claw back agreement.  The ultimate goal of this early phase is to spend time thinking about needs and issues that might arise over the life cycle of the matter.  Obviously, not every issue can be anticipated but you may be surprised how many can be assessed and addressed early in the discovery process.

Have questions?  Please contact me at kcole@farrellfritz.com.

Often viewed as a necessary evil, the Rule 26(f) conference can serve as an invaluable opportunity to meaningfully discuss discovery such that the process is streamlined and seeks to avoid unnecessary (and often costly) disputes.   Generally speaking, Rule 26(f), among other things, sets the deadline for the conference as soon as practicable and at least 21 days before the scheduling conference, and lists several required topics for the conference, including preserving discoverable information. Although a litigant should use the Rule 26(f) conference to reduce the risk of spoliation claims through agreements on preservation, as well as reduce costs by limiting the scope of e-discovery, achieving results is almost entirely dependent on the attorney’s preparation.  Indeed, being well informed about your client, its documents ‒ including ESI ‒ and its goals will allow for a productive discussion rather than an empty formality.  But, how exactly do you prepare and what should you think about before the conference?

To prepare for the conference, it helps to think about the end game and to formulate the steps necessary to get there.  The below thoughts on preparation/topics are intended merely as a guidepost and are not exhaustive.

  • Understand your client’s ESI:  What kind of ESI is required to prosecute the client’s claims and defend against those of the adversary?  Where does that ESI reside?  To this end, it is important to become familiar with your client’s network architecture, including what hardware exists, and where.   You should strive to understand the client’s knowledge management (when/how is ESI stored), system knowledge (what is stored and where) and who is responsible for maintaining and storing data.  For example, are there physical email servers on site, or are the servers virtual?  What is necessary to access and collect data from each server?  Relatedly, give thought to addressing admissibility and how authenticity may be established over the documents (See The New Rules of Federal Evidence Have Arrived“).
  • Identify Custodians:  Take time to identify employees/custodians likely to have potentially responsive ESI.  Preservation comes at a cost and if you fail to understand your custodians, you may over-preserve.  Consider, for example, if the client is a national organization with offices throughout the U.S.  If all of the relevant custodians work out of the Omaha office, with all of the potentially responsive data located on a particular server, is there need to preserve the content of all other servers?  Consider interviewing those custodians to identify other relevant custodians.
  • Understand the timing and execution of Hold Notices, and Related Thorny Issues: At the conference the parties should determine the scope of the duty to preserve.  For example, be prepared to disclose (and ask adversary about) the status of the litigation hold.  Has one been issued?  If so, when and who received it.  If not, why not?  You may even seek to inquire about what subjects and sources the Hold covers and if there is any procedure in place for auditing compliance.  Are there any time-sensitive data sources involved and if so, have auto-delete and auto-archive functions been turned off for those data sources?  Is data from third-parties potentially responsive?  And, if so, what steps, if any, have been taken to preserve that data?   Have any key custodians left the company or potentially leaving?  If so, what steps are being taken to preserve his/her data?  Because of the large increase in e-data and the various locations where that data may reside, think about ways to narrow defensibly the scope of what you preserve.
  • Understand Collection:   While you may agree to preserve all of Katy Cole’s emails from 2010 to the present, that doesn’t mean you are agreeing to review for production all of that data.  What will be done to identify the materials that will be reviewed?  Can the parties agree upon search terms, date delimiters and other methodologies to limit the universe of material? Consider entering an agreement as to appropriate date ranges, custodians, systems, file types, and search terms.
  • Understand Privilege Obligations:  You should also discuss privilege during the Rule 26 conference.  Consider seeking a stipulation or Rule 502(d) order stating that disclosure of privileged information does not constitute a waiver of the attorney-client privilege in the instant or another proceeding.  Discuss whether a traditional privilege log is practical or burdensome for large volumes of ESI. Would it be preferable to log privileged emails by thread groups (i.e., a message and its attachments; related messages in a string of replies and forwards)?  Or are categorical logs (i.e., those that describe withheld categories instead of listing withheld records) preferable?
  • Understand Production Format:  Don’t leave format to the whim of your adversary.  Discuss expectations.  Indeed, there is little worse than receiving a thumb drive that contains various unsearchable PDFs (well, maybe a paper production is worse).  Discuss your production specifications and be prepared to produce in the same format you demand production.  Relatedly, is there any paper in the production?  If so, be certain to request that Optical Character Recognition (OCR [i.e., the process by which paper documents are converted into editable, searchable computer files]) be applied for ease text-search ability.  And, are you producing in a fell swoop or will the parties engage in phased discovery?

A meaningful and productive Rule 26(f) conference can streamline discovery, avoid unnecessary costs and avoid spoliation concerns.  It should be embraced as an opportunity to reach agreement and engage in a cooperative discovery process that will promote proportionality.

Have questions?  Please contact me at kcole@farrellfritz.com.

On August 1, 2018, Judge Beetlestone (E.D. Pa.) granted Defendants’ motion for sanctions based upon unequivocal evidence that Plaintiffs manipulated and fabricated emails material to the litigation.  Although the Court imposed the drastic sanction of dismissing Plaintiffs’ complaint, the Court provided a detailed and instructive analysis supporting its ultimate conclusion.  The Court’s analysis, addressed below, can be read in full here.

Facts

The underlying matter arises from the sale of Second Opinion, Inc., (“SO”).  SO was a service business that connected lawyers representing personal injury plaintiffs with medical professionals who could serve as experts in litigation.  Plaintiffs entered into an agreement to purchase the assets of SO and eventually filed a lawsuit alleging fraud, misrepresentation and breach of contract against Howard and Wendy Weiss – the prior owners of SO and Defendants to the lawsuit.   The gist of the dispute was that the Defendants made false representations about the nature of SO and the assets the Plaintiffs were to receive pursuant to the purchase agreement.

In response to a letter request by the Defendants, the Court held a hearing on the record in December 2017 to decide a discovery dispute concerning whether Defendants’ interrogatories contained an impermissible number of subparts.  At that hearing, the Court was advised of a newly discovered issue – that there were a number of significant discrepancies between emails produced by Defendants and emails produced by Plaintiffs.

A forensic expert was retained to examine each party’s computer(s) and eventually the Defendants moved for sanctions.  In late June 2018, the Court received an ex parte fax from Plaintiff requesting dismissal of the suit, including the counterclaims filed by Defendants.

On July 5, 2018 the Court held a conference upon the record to discuss Defendants’ pending motion for sanctions.  During that conference Plaintiff – in a radical departure from his faxed letter– represented to the Court he had no knowledge of any counterclaim against him.  At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court scheduled another hearing to address the spoliation motion.

Spoliation

At its core, the issue boiled down to 7 emails and which, among them, were authentic.

For example, Email 3 – an email purportedly from Plaintiff to Defendant — stated, “[w]e are interested in cutting off training.  We are interested in taking over the business and moving it forward. We believe we can do this.”

Yet, Email 4  — an email sent at the exact same time as Email 3 and also from Plaintiff to Defendant stated, “[we] are not interested in cutting off training.  We are interested in taking over the business and moving it forward while still learning.  We believe we can do this.”

The forensic examiner testified that Email 3 was found only on Plaintiff’s computer and was a fabrication; and Email 4 was found on both Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s computer.  In what the Court observed was the most telling indicia of purposeful fabrication, is that Email 4 (the authentic email) was located in three different locations in Plaintiff’s computer, indicating that he had deleted the file.   Plaintiff testified but the Court found his testimony not credible, confused and riddled with inconsistencies.

Decision

In order to determine the appropriate sanction, a Court must weigh three factors:

(1) the degree of fault of the person who destroyed or altered the evidence;

(2) the prejudice suffered by the opposing party; and

(3) the existence of alternative sanctions.

In assessing these factors the Court concluded that Plaintiff “intentionally altered and manipulated evidence” and when confronted with the altered emails he “accused the Defendants of having manipulated the authentic emails.  [Plaintiff] actively deleted emails and the evidence shows that he continued to delete pertinent files as recently as…after the deposition when he was confronted with the fabricated emails.”  And so, the Court determined Plaintiff’s actions were intentional and willful.

The Court then determined that notwithstanding the early discovery of Plaintiff’s actions, the prejudice “was substantial.”  Specifically, Defendants had to hire an expert and expend significant sums of money (motion practice, full day of testimony).  Additionally, the fabricated emails materially assisted Plaintiff’s case against Defendants.  Such actions, said the Court, is a “wrong against the institutions set up to protect the public….fraud cannot be complacently tolerated…”  Thus, the Court found Plaintiff’s behavior threatened to undermine the public’s faith in courts and the discovery process.

Finally, the Court assessed the various sanctions available to it inherently and specifically pursuant to Rule 37.  The Court chose not to impose an adverse jury instruction as that would not remediate the prejudice to Defendants, would not deter this type of egregious conduct, and would be a minimal sanction where, as here, there was significant effort and costs imposed during the process.  In opting not to impose only a financial sanction the Court noted that doing so would convey the wrong message to litigants that money could cure one’s improper actions.   And so, according to the Court, based upon well-established law in the Third Circuit, the only remedy available that was proportional to the deleterious and egregious fraudulent conduct involved here was the outright dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims.  Indeed, “[a] party’s resort to fabricated evidence justifies denial of all relief to that party.”

Conclusion

There is little that needs to be said about this decision, as we all understand the egregious and continual conduct that was at play in this matter and the need for swift and severe sanctions.  The decision, however, reminds us of the vast discretion a Court has when imposing sanctions.

Have questions?  Please contact me at kcole@farrellfritz.com.

It has become apparent that lawyers must keep informed of changes in the law, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.  And, relevant technology is not limited to electronic dockets (i.e., NYSCEF, and ECF) and preserving text messages a client sends about his/her representation.  Rather, relevant technology includes today’s world of social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snap Chat to name a few.  Today’s blog is intended to highlight a few of the risks associated with social media.

1.  Know What Your Client is Posting on Social Media

In a 2014 case out of the Florida Court of Appeals, the daughter of the winning party posted a comment on her Facebook page commenting about the outcome of the lawsuit and the European vacation paid for as a result.  Unfortunately, the post violated the confidentiality provisions of the parties’ settlement and torpedoed the settlement.  Ouch!  Chances are, the attorneys had no idea what the daughter was up to but this case is a good reminder to know what your client is posting on social media.

2.  Don’t Spoliate, or Condone the Spoliation of Evidence

Social media posts, like any other type of “evidence” may be relevant to the lawsuit in which you are involved.  And so, like any other type of evidence, counsel may not alter or destroy relevant social media posts nor can we direct or assist others in doing so.  But, what happens when you tell your client to “clean up” his Facebook page?

In one particularly egregious example of “deceptive and obstructionist conduct,” a lawyer directed his client to clean up his Facebook page, and then ultimately deactivated the client’s account before signing a discovery response the client did not have a Facebook account. The Court levied a collective fine of $722,000 in sanctions against the lawyer and the client, and referred the attorney to the Virginia State Bar.   Other less egregious “housekeeping efforts” can also result in spoliation motions and adverse inferences at trial (see e.g. Gatto v. United Airlines Inc.,  United States District Court, District of N.J., Civil Action No.: 10-cv-1090-ES-SCM [personal injury plaintiff intentionally deactivated Facebook account during discovery, unbeknownst to his lawyer]).  In addition to the spoliation dangers presented by social media, Gatto dovetails nicely with Point I, supra, and serves as an important reminder to know both what your client is posting, and what your client may be deleting.

3.  If You Resort to Social Media to Research a Prospective or Sitting Juror, Do it Ethically

Various ethics opinions (see e.g., the NY County Lawyer Association Opinion 743 (2011) the New York City Bar Association Commission on Professional Ethics Formal Opinion 2012-2 (2012) say it is okay to research perspective and sitting jurors through social media.  However, make sure you do not communicate with the individual in the process so you don’t run afoul of the “no contact” rule.  See, e.g., Rule 3.5 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct.  It is therefore critically important before you, a colleague or agent conduct any social media research about a juror, that you understand how the particular network operates. For example, certain jurisdictions find the automatic system-generated notice, “Katy Cole has viewed your LinkedIn profile,” to be a “communication” and therefore an improper communication with a prospective juror (or witness, or party). See previous blog post, “Ethical Information Gathering When Using Social Media.

4.  Understand the Impact of What You Share

Finally, it is important to remember that the essence of the legal profession is confidentiality and discretion.  And yet, there are many public examples of lawyers demonstrating, on social media, a lack of judgment when, for example, they share tweets or posts about clients or trial strategies.  Such behavior is really a recipe for disaster as a lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized to carry out the representation.  Therefore, a comment about even a generic/unidentified client or a case runs the risk of violating one’s duty of confidentiality to the client. See, e.g., Blogging Assistant PD Gets 60-Day Suspension for Posts on Little-Disguised Clients,” American Bar Association, May 26, 2010.

The take-away is simple: Rather than run into an ethics problem as a result of a social media post, tweet, hashtag, etc., think before you post.

Have questions?  Please contact me at kcole@farrellfritz.com.

Angela Lawrence (“Lawrence”) was a plaintiff in a civil rights action that alleged officers of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) entered her home in August 2014 without a warrant, pushed her to the ground, damaged her property, and stole $1,000 in cash.   In September 2016, Lawrence provided photographs to her attorney (“Leventhal”) that she claimed depicted the condition of her apartment several days after the incident and which appeared consistent with Lawrence’s recitation of what transpired.  Leventhal accepted his client’s representations and, after reviewing the photographs, saved them to a PDF, Bates-stamped them, and produced them to Defendants At that time, Leventhal was unfamiliar with electronically stored metadata and “did not doubt [that] the photographs were taken contemporaneously with the occurrence of the damage.” (Decl. of Jason L. Leventhal, Esq., in Opp. to Defs.’ Mot. For Sanctions & Attorneys’ Fees & Costs, ECF No. 123 (“Leventhal Decl.”) 15–16.)

During a December 2016 deposition, Lawrence testified that her son or a friend took the photographs two days after the incident. In a subsequent deposition in April 2017, Lawrence asserted that she had taken most of the pictures, that her son had taken a few, and that none of them were taken by the previously described friend.

At that juncture, Leventhal believed his client had memory problems but did not believe she was testifying falsely. In view of Lawrence’s conflicting testimony, Defendants requested the smartphones which Lawrence claimed were used to take the photos. In August 2017, Leventhal objected, but agreed to produce the photographs’ native files, which included metadata. When Defendants checked the photographs’ metadata, they learned that 67 of the 70 photographs had been taken in September 2016—two years after the incident and immediately before Lawrence provided them to Leventhal.

In September 2017, Defendants moved for sanctions against Lawrence and Leventhal. The Court granted in part, and denied in part Defendants’ motion.  Specifically, the Court found Lawrence committed a fraud upon the Court, and dismissed her action.  The Court, however, spared the attorney and held his failure to discover that his client had lied about when digital photos were taken in order to support her case against the NYPD was not sanctionable even though he could have uncovered his client’s fraud by checking the images’ metadata.

In reaching this conclusion Judge Pauley examined each of Rule 11, Rule 26, Rule 37 and the Court’s inherent powers to impose a sanction. While the decision itself (Lawrence v. City of New York, 2018 BL 267050, S.D.N.Y., No. 15cv8947, 7/27/18) provides a detailed analysis of each Rule and its applicability, for purposes of this blog, the Court concluded that none of the Rules provided a basis for imposing a sanction on Leventhal.

The Court, noting that beyond the powers conferred expressly by rule and statute, a federal court has inherent power to sanction a party for bad faith litigation conduct, determined that the creation of staged photos was the beginning of a sustained effort by Lawrence to mislead Defendants and this Court.*   Ultimately, the Court concluded Lawrence’s willful and repeated conduct “requires that the policy favoring adjudication on the merits yield to the need to preserve the integrity of the courts” and dismissed her lawsuit.   Lawrence, however, was spared any sanction.

Conclusion

This decision is an important reminder that we, as attorneys, must verify a client’s representation, especially involving evidence and discovery.  We cannot accept blindly a client’s representation.  Indeed, if an attorney is complicit in making a false or misleading statement to Court or an adversary, we are subject to sanctions and repercussions.  In fact, Judge Pauley showed mercy to Leventhal that is not embraced by all Courts.  See, e.g., Johnson v. BAE Sys., Inc., 307 F.R.D. 220, 226 (D.D.C. 2013) (sanctioning attorney for producing doctored medical records without any inspection or inquiry); Brown v. Tellermate Holdings Ltd., No. 2:11-CV-1122, 2014 WL 2987051 (S.D. Ohio July 1, 2014) (sanctioning attorney who relied on client representations that resulted in failure to uncover basic information about an ESI database, resulting in false or misleading statements to opposing counsel that hampered their ability to carry out discovery).

* It was only after Defendants discovered the metadata that Lawrence acknowledged that the photos were taken in 2016. Lawrence’s attempts to explain the photographs and her deposition testimony continue a pattern of evasion and untruths. First, she asserted the production was caused by conjunctivitis, and presented her prescription for eye drops. (ECF No. 105.) Only after the Court rejected that explanation did Lawrence contend that the production was due to mental illness. However, after providing that explanation, Lawrence submitted further documents in which she amended her deposition testimony and claimed that the photos were taken by her grandson as part of a school project. (ECF No. 132-1, at 76.)  The Court noted that these shifting explanations were as troubling as the photographs themselves.

Have questions?  Please contact me at kcole@farrellfritz.com.

On October 1, 2018, a new Rule (specifically, a new subdivision to existing Rule 11-e) of the Commercial Division Rules, will go into effect. 

Rule 11-e governs Responses and Objections to Document Requests.  The new subdivision, promulgated by administrative Order of Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks, governs the use of technology-assisted review (“TAR”) in the discovery process. 

The new subdivision (f) states:

The parties are encouraged to use the most efficient means to review documents, including electronically stored information (“ESI”), that is consistent with the parties’ disclosure obligations under Article 31 of the CPLR and proportional to the needs of the case.  Such means may include technology-assisted review, including predictive coding, in appropriate cases…

In addition to implicitly recognizing the cost attendant to e-discovery, the rule promotes cooperation by encouraging parties in commercial cases “to confer, at the outset of discovery and as needed throughout the discovery period, about [TAR] mechanisms they intend to use in document review and production.”  And so, the new Commercial Division Rule appears to bring New York State Commercial Division expectations closer in line with those set forth in the Federal Rules, specifically Rule 26(f), which encourages litigants (with an eye toward proportionality) to discuss preservation and production of ESI.

Questions about technology assisted review?  Please contact kcole@farrellfritz.com.