Think twice before asking for “any and all” documents

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Before I get to the topic at hand, allow me a brief rant. Can anyone explain how the phrase “any and all documents” (typically used in Rule 34 request for documents) covers any document not covered by a a request for “all documents” or “any document”? This is as bad as “true and correct copies.” Lawyers really need to take a look at what they write.

Rather than bore you with data on the amount of new information created each year by each business, let’s just agree that it is a lot. When you frame a document request as “any all all documents (which includes ESI) related to blah, blah, blah,” you need to think long and hard about whether you really want “any and all” such information. Aside from the ambiguity inherent in such requests, lawyers tend to ask these questions without regard to the importance of the issue, the need for documents to prove the point involved or whether it is possible to ask for a smaller subset of the universe of documents to get what is needed. Why are these things important?

One of two things happen when you get documents in response to your request. You either review them or you don’t. If you ask for these documents and do not review them, you are a blithering idiot. If you review the documents, or even just a subset of them, you are incurring significant cost for your client. Do you really want to incur that cost without first determining it is important?

Lawyers seem to follow a script reminiscent of the code written for V’ger in the original Star Trek movie–”learn all that is learnable.” Just like V’ger almost destroyed the earth in pursuit of its directive, lawyers can seriously injure their own client by mindless pursuit of “any and all”.

It is time to take a fresh look at this practice and come up with a better approach.

 

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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