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The discovery process is often cited as one of the most grueling aspects of litigation. While the exchange of evidence and information between parties is a critical phase, it can quickly snowball into a massive undertaking replete with sleepless nights and boxes upon boxes of documents.
For starters, the scope of discovery is exceptionally broad. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, parties can request any non-privileged information that is "relevant to any party's claim or defense." While this threshold may seem straightforward, practitioners know well that "relevance" is subject to interpretation. Opposing counsel often take divergent views on what materials further their case theories and frequently inundate each other with expansive requests.
Complicating matters, discovery extends beyond the parties themselves. Third parties like former employees, vendors, and competitors can all be dragged into the fray with subpoenas commanding they hand over anything pertinent to the dispute. Faced with this specter, organizations are forced to conduct exhaustive searches across troves of data to avoid accusations of spoliation. Email archives, network drives, cloud storage, text messages " no stone can go unturned.
For attorneys tasked with reviewing everything for privilege and responsiveness, document review becomes a crushing endeavor. Some cases generate hundreds of thousands or even millions of documents that must be sifted through page-by-page. Missing or improperly withholding just one "hot doc" could fundamentally alter the trajectory of a case. The human effort and costs involved quickly become monumental.