University of Denver

Discovery

IAALS has focused much of its time and effort over the last decade on ways to improve the effectiveness of discovery—with the ultimate goal of ensuring an accessible system for all. IAALS is contributing to the national conversation, monitoring and supporting related efforts around the country, and leading reform.

Senior Director
Legal Assistant

There has been a focused effort to address the problems with civil litigation, dating back to the 2010 Conference on Civil Litigation at Duke Law School and culminating in significant amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that went into effect on December 1, 2015. On the state side, state pilot projects and rule reform efforts have paved the way for innovation in discovery practices. The Conference of Chief Justices has been a leader in creating a blue-ribbon committee to develop recommendations for reform, building off the pilot experiences and evaluations, and ultimately culminating in a call to action for reform that was adopted by resolution of the Chiefs in 2016. 

These efforts have focused in large part on the cost and delay related to discovery, and how the discovery process could be made more efficient and proportional. The discovery of electronically stored information (ESI) intensifies the advantages and disadvantages of our traditional discovery process, while also intensifying the need for a more efficient and proportional process. Discovery continues to play a central role in federal pilot projects and state civil justice reform efforts.

IAALS formerly housed this work under its Rule One Initiative until 2018.

On December 1, 2015, significant amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure went into effect focused on cooperation, proportionality, and early active judicial case management. A new Rule 37(e) addressing sanctions related to the failure to preserve electronically stored information was also included. The amendments represent the culmination of many years of effort by the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, the Advisory Committee on Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and many others around the country who have worked in support of these amendments designed to promote the just, speedy, and inexpensive resolution of civil cases. 

We recognize that it took much hard work to get this far, but to achieve the full impact of these reforms it ultimately comes down to implementation and education—of the bench and the bar.

Events 
IAALS hosted a Forum for a small group of stakeholders from around the country for the purpose of gathering comments on the proposed federal rules amendments. Following the meeting, IAALS has...
Publications 
Understanding how the courts and rulemakers have addressed the costs of discovery, including their allocation between the parties, provides important background and context for future recommendations...
IAALS drafted this report coming out of its Forum for Understanding and Comment on the Federal Rules Amendments, which was held in December 2013. The Report provides additional background and a...
IAALS and the American College of Trial Lawyers Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice submitted comments on the proposed Federal Rule Amendments. The comment provides a summary of the pilot...

States have been leaders and innovators in discovery reform efforts across the country. Many of the pilot project efforts launched from IAALS work with the ACTL Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice and proposed pilot project rules, including Colorado, Massachusetts, Iowa, Minnesota, and New Hampshire. Utah implemented statewide rule changes that implemented initial disclosures and tiered discovery. The experiences from these projects, and their evaluations, have inspired reform at a nationwide level on both the federal and state front.

Publications 
This report details IAALS' final findings on the Colorado Civil Access Pilot Project (CAPP), the state's experiment with new court procedures intended to secure the fundamental promise of our civil...
Events 
IAALS and the National Judicial College co-hosted the 2nd Annual Educational Summit for State Court Judges: Unlocking E-Discovery. The Summit provided a forum exclusively tailored for state court...
In June 2012, IAALS hosted a two-day Summit on e-discovery, including separate sessions for practitioners and state court judges. On Friday, June 22, DISH Network L.L.C. co-sponsored a “Best in Class...
Publications 
While electronic discovery continues to pose challenges for the civil justice system, the judge who understands e-discovery may be uniquely positioned to guide the litigation in a way that works...
This toolkit collects some of the best resources for state court judges, ranging from judicial primers to model orders to the best glossaries. For both judges and attorneys alike, this toolkit serves...

We track state and federal discovery reform efforts through our Action on the Ground map, which provides a visual illustration of reform.