In an effort to reduce e-discovery costs and court burdens, courts in two jurisdictions have launched pioneering e-discovery programs: the 7th Circuit Electronic Discovery Pilot Program and the Western District of Pennsylvania Electronic Discovery Special Master Program. While very different in design, both programs are far enough along to yield a similar conclusion: the involvement of e-discovery liaisons, focused on e-discovery issues, can be of great assistance to courts and to parties in addressing and resolving problems around e-discovery. This typically results in lower costs and less need for court intervention in the discovery process.
The Western District of Pennsylvania E-Discovery Special Master (EDSM) Program
While judges and lawyers centered in the Chicago area were developing the 7th Circuit pilot program, judges and lawyers about 500 miles to the east, centered in Pittsburgh, were developing an E-Discovery Special Master Program. This program was largely the brainchild of Western District Judge Joy Flowers Conti, assisted by several other Western District judges and subcommittees of local practitioners. In November 2010, the Western District Board of Judges approved the establishment of a list of qualified attorneys to serve as EDSMs. There are currently 48 lawyers meeting experience and training requirements established by the court, who have been approved to serve as EDSMs.