Get Ready for New Ediscovery Rules in Minnesota

Monday, May 13, 2013 by Thought Leadership Team

The month of July ensures some much needed warmth in Minnesota after an offensively wintery spring, but July also brings an exciting new set of amendments to the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure.

From July 1, 2013 onward, Minnesota lawyers are obligated to cooperate and be more upfront during the discovery process. In an effort to mirror the crux of the 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), electronic discovery and proportionality will be the focus of the new Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure, due in no small part to the resounding plea from lawyers all over the state for the judicial enforcement of cost-effectiveness and manageability in civil litigation.

Particularly interesting is the new Rule 1, which explicitly addresses proportionality – a welcome step that actually goes above and beyond the FRCP. The specific mention of proportionality takes the wiggle room away from litigants tempted to play fiscal “chicken” with opposing counsel via discovery costs. It puts the onus on each party to work across the aisle and limit discovery to a practicable scope.

The most expansive change comes in Rule 16, by which Minnesota lawyers must make an earlier investment on tailored ediscovery plans. Lawyers must conduct ediscovery management with more effort than ever by way of compulsory initial disclosures related to custodians, data sources, litigation holds, scheduling, production format, and everything in between. A strict new timeline will be enforced – thirty days after the answer to the complaint, the discovery conference must take place, and fourteen days after that, the parties must file a discovery plan with the court. No longer will “Yep, we talked about ediscovery” end the story, as the court will now be more involved in early planning to ensure that the discovery beast stays tame. In fact, no discovery will be allowed until after the initial disclosures and scheduling order pass the court’s muster. In essence, early preparation and a strengthened call for cooperation are certainly the themes of the new rules in Minnesota state court.

Updates to the Minnesota Rules come at the perfect time, when high-level discussions are occurring about similarly strengthening the FRCP to reflect the growing need to address proportionality in litigation. All in all, the updates reflect the legal system moving forward on a path towards the “North Star” in ediscovery.