As a paralegal or attorney, you know that discovery is the foundation of a lawsuit process. Discovery allows each side to collect evidence for use during trial, and can take many forms including depositions, interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and answers to written questions. The more prepared you are with your own discovery plan before your opponent starts collecting information about you or your case, the better chance you have at winning.
To help make sure that you’re properly prepared when it’s time for discovery to begin, here are five ways to stay ahead of the game:
Prepare a discovery plan.
- Create a discovery binder that helps you organize all your ideas in one place, whether it be digital or physical.
- Strategize your response to requests for the production of documents.
- Work with opposing counsel early and often to organize the case and prevent delays in service or burdensome (and unnecessary) demands on you, your client(s), and/or business operations.
Organize your files so that when it’s time to start gathering evidence for trial, you’ll be able to find what you need quickly and easily.
- Make sure that you’re not keeping any unnecessary information that can slow down or complicate the case.
- Establish a protocol for how to organize the evidence, like using color-coded folders or labels on storage boxes. This can be especially helpful if your case involves multiple clients and/or witnesses; it will make seeing what is relevant more efficient when time is limited during trial preparation.
- Make sure that your legal team has access to all of the information they need, whether it’s stored on a shared drive or in an online document management software program.
- Being prepared before any evidence is requested or produced can prevent delays in trial preparation that could result from a lack of organization. Organize early on to greatly increase your chances for success at trial!
Keep track of any deadlines related to discovery by keeping an ongoing calendar during discovery.
- Keep track of all deadlines through a shared, online calendar that all team members can access.
- Setup alerts and reminders for upcoming deadlines so your team is never caught by surprise.
- Communicate with other members of your team so you can be aware of what evidence is still outstanding and organize accordingly before the trial begins. You don’t want to waste time.
Have a plan to respond to any requests for information from your opponent before they send them in order to avoid surprises down the road.
- Your opponent might have a different idea of how to organize evidence, so discuss ideas with him and come up with a plan that works for both sides.
- Send any discovery requests you receive from your opponent as soon as possible
- If deadlines start approaching before you’ve responded – even if the deadline is only a few days away – let your opponent know immediately so that he can extend them or organize his case accordingly.
- If your opponent fails to meet any deadlines, ask the court to impose sanctions on him for failing to abide by discovery rules and procedures. You’ll be ahead of the game when it’s time for trial.
A solid discovery process will help your team start off on the right foot and make decisions with less stress. It’s important to organize early so that everyone knows what their role is going to be as well as how it fits into the big picture. If you have any questions or comments about this post, please feel free to leave them below!