Crafting eDiscovery Requests with “Reasonable Particularity” is the Latest Target for The Sedona Conference: eDiscovery Best Practices

Been meaning to cover this for over a week. The Sedona Conference® (TSC) and its Working Group 1 on Electronic Document Retention and Production (WG1) has announced that The Sedona Conference Primer on Crafting eDiscovery Requests with “Reasonable Particularity” (“Primer”) has been published for public comment.

As stated in the email notification I received: “The Primer, available here for free download, addresses the problem of vague and overbroad discovery requests that clog the courts and increase litigation costs. It provides practical guidance for drafting requests for production in compliance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34(b)(1) and works in tandem with The Sedona Conference Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34(b)(2) Primer, published in 2018, to ensure more efficient discovery, reduced costs, and decreased court involvement in discovery disputes.”

In March 2018, WG1 published the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34(b)(2) Primer (available here), providing practical pointers on responding to discovery requests and a detailed framework for drafting responses to requests for production that comply with amended Rule 34(b)(2). However, the Rule 34(b)(2) Primer did not address one of the causes of poorly drafted Rule 34 responses: Deficiencies with Rule 34 requests. Vague and overbroad discovery requests continue to clog the courts and increase litigation costs.

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To illustrate that point, one of the most common boilerplate phrases is “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence”, which has been replaced by the six proportionality factors in the new Rule 26(b)(1). Yet, many lawyers still reference this as the standard, despite the rules changes.  And more than one or two, here or there. Out of curiosity, I decided to search for that phrase a few weeks back for a #caseoftheweek in eDiscovery Assistant for cases after December 1st of 2015 and I found 698(!) case rulings which have that phrase in them. 😮 While that doesn’t mean all the references are being used for boilerplate requests and objections, many are (I’ve covered a lot of them in my blogging). So, there is certainly a need for Primer on crafting eDiscovery requests with “reasonable particularity”!

In addition to a Cover Memorandum, the Preface and an Introduction and Conclusion, the 31-page PDF Primer contains three other sections. Section II of the Primer discusses the Historical and Legal Background that necessitates the publication of such a Primer. Section III discusses practice considerations for Drafting Requests That Satisfy the Requirement. Section IV provides a practical, example-based framework of Practice Considerations for how to draft requests for production in light of the renewed focus on “reasonable particularity.”

The Primer on Crafting eDiscovery Requests with “Reasonable Particularity” is open for public comment through January 6, 2022. Questions and comments may be sent to comments@sedonaconference.org. The drafting team will carefully consider all comments received, and determine what edits are appropriate for the final version.

So, what do you think?  Are you struggling with crafting eDiscovery requests that are appropriately tailored?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Assistant

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

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