By Tim Rollins
Exterro® Inc., the preferred provider of software specifically designed for in-house legal and IT teams at Global 2000 and AmLaw 200 organizations, along with EDRM/Duke Law today released the 5th Annual Federal Judges Survey of Industry Trends, Practices, and Challenges Faced. The report includes survey responses from 264 current or recently retired federal judges, representing close to 19% of the federal bench. In the survey, judges responded to questions about:
- E-discovery missteps and remedies
- Working effectively with judge
- Federal judges e-discovery practices and involvement
“In the 5th Annual Federal Judges Survey, we hear from close to 1 in 5 of the federal judiciary on their perspective and practices around e-discovery. The results show that more than anything else, having a defined, repeatable, and defensible e-discovery practice is crucial for any e-discovery practitioner; they cannot rely on judges to be active discovery managers and guide their process,” said Bill Piwonka, CMO at Exterro.
Key takeaways of the report include:
- Legal teams must be proactive and stay on top of e-discovery. Only 22% of judges consider themselves active discovery case managers; most judges will wait for a request before they get involved in discovery disputes. When they do arise, judges will resolve discovery disputes promptly with 56% seeing themselves as umpires in discovery matters.
- Best ways to improve e-discovery practices: Legal teams need to understand their client’s IT infrastructure and cooperate with opposing counsel to make sure they can manage e-discovery without judicial intervention.
- Almost three-quarters of judges have issued some e-discovery instruction in the past year. 13% of responding judges have issued an e-discovery sanction, but 74% have taken affirmative action (e.g., required additional conferences, issued warnings) to solve e-discovery problems multiple times in the past year. And judges stated that bad faith and poor communication are the leading causes of sanctions.
- Lawyer’s e-discovery competency is improving. 56% of judges agree that “lawyers appearing before them have shown an adequate level of knowledge and expertise in e-discovery matters”, compared to 23% in 2018 showing that attorney e-discovery competence is improving.
"EDRM at Duke is very excited about the release of the 2019 edition of Judges survey regarding the state of eDiscovery. Cooperating with Duke EDRM, Exterro was able to expand the scope of the survey to include over 200 federal judges. This additional input not only expanded the knowledge base, but also provided the basis for continuing a dialog in the expanding the use of eDiscovery tools. The upcoming EDRM webinar with Exterro is one of those steps,” said Jim Waldron J.D., Director at EDRM at Duke Law.
The full 5th Annual Federal Judges Survey of Industry Trends, Practices, and Challenges Faced can be downloaded here.