Western District of Pennsylvania E-Discovery Special Masters Pilot a Success

In 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania established an E-Discovery Special Masters Pilot Program with the goal of developing an approved list of special masters to assist with monitoring electronic discovery compliance, narrowing and facilitating resolution of e-discovery disputes, and providing reports and recommendations to the judge, as necessary. A recent article from Law Technology News, E-Discovery Special Masters Slash Costs in Pennsylvania, highlights the successes of the program.

To date, over 52 lawyers have been qualified and trained to serve as E-Discovery Special Masters, or EDSMs. The reaction to the program has been very positive, and while the parties are responsible for paying for the costs of the special master, participants have found that the program nevertheless results in substantial savings. EDSMs are able to mediate and provide solutions for electronic discovery disputes to keep down potentially escalating discovery costs while also preventing the delay that often accompanies such disputes. In some cases, EDSMs also issue a report and recommendation to the court. Regarding the program, Judge Nora Barry Fischer has said it “is a tool in the arsenal that the district judges and the parties have to comply with Rule 1. Not every case needs a special master—but for the cases that do appointment of same is cost effective and efficient.”