FRCP &E-Discovery: The Layman's Guide
Rule 1

Rule 1: One Rule to Rule Them All

When the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) were created in 1938, their purpose was simple: "secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding." This purpose has gotten somewhat muddled over the years, but with the 2015 FRCP amendments courts have begun to re-focus. With the growing costs of e-discovery activities, courts are now taking proactive steps to enforce cooperation among parties and ensure that court proceedings are conducted in an efficient and fair manner.


What the Rule Is

Scope and Purpose

“These rules govern the procedure in all civil actions and proceedings in the United States district courts, except as stated in Rule 81. They should be construed, administered, and employed by the court and the parties to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding."


Practical E-Discovery Application

Cooperation, cooperation, cooperation. In today's digital age, where millions of documents in a variety of locations (cloud, phones, network servers, etc.) need to be preserved, searched, collected, processed and reviewed, legal teams must work together to identify what really is at issue in cases. Lawsuits will always at the heart of things be adversarial, someone is claiming something bad against someone else. Things won't be butterflies and rainbows between the two sides. But this adversarial mentality cannot extend to e-discovery issues because it leads to a result that goes in the exact opposite direction of why the FRCP was created in the first place.

Always keep Rule 1 in mind when tackling e-discovery activities, doing this will not only put you in the court's good graces but it will save your client lots of time and money.

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How to Employ Rule 1
  1. Parties share this responsibility to employ the rules in the same way.
  2. Ways to improve civil procedure is to not over-use, misuse or abuse these rules that increase cost or delay
  3. Effective use of these rules depends on “cooperative and proportional use of procedure.”

In January 2016, this notion of “just, speedy, and inexpensive” resolution of legal disputes was of such significance that US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts weighed in on it (as well as other e-discovery related FRCP amendments) in the 2015 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary.


Expert Perspective

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BY: Hon. John Roberts US Supreme Court Chief Justice
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“The 2015 civil rules amendments are a major stride toward a better federal court system. But they will achieve the goal of Rule 1—'the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding'— only if the entire legal community, including the bench, bar, and legal academy, step up to the challenge of making real change.

Additional Resource

Learn how the courts are promoting cooperation in their courts. Download the 2017 Federal Judges Survey.

Download Survey

"Judges and lawyers [have an obligation] to work cooperatively in controlling the expense and time demands of litigation…. Judges must be willing to take on a stewardship role, managing their cases from the outset rather than allowing parties alone to dictate the scope of discovery and the pace of litigation. As for the lawyers, most will readily agree—in the abstract—that they have an obligation to their clients, and to the justice system, to avoid antagonistic tactics, wasteful procedural maneuvers, and teetering brinksmanship."


Additional News & Analysis