Grimm Final - Semantic Scholar

attorney–client privilege or work product have become prohibitive due to the concern that .... 19 Id. at 239 & n.32 (citing Socha-Gelbmann 2005 Electronic Discovery .... discovery management orders “that incorporate procedures under which.
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Richmond Journal of Law and Technology

Vol. XVII, Issue 3

FEDERAL RULE OF EVIDENCE 502: HAS IT LIVED UP TO ITS POTENTIAL? By Paul W. Grimm, Lisa Yurwit Bergstrom, and Matthew P. Kraeuter* Cite as: Paul W. Grimm, Lisa Yurwit Bergstrom & Matthew P. Kraeuter, Federal Rule of Evidence 502: Has It Lived Up to Its Potential?, XVII RICH. J.L. & TECH. 8 (2011),

I. INTRODUCTION [1] Nothing causes litigators greater anxiety than the possibility of doing, or failing to do, something during a civil case that waives attorney– client privilege or work-product protection.1 Attend any seminar, webcast, podcast, or other continuing legal education course dealing with the discovery of electronically stored information (“ESI”) and you are sure to hear about this concern and how to mitigate it.2 Listen to any discussion


Paul W. Grimm is the Chief United States Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland; Lisa Yurwit Bergstrom and Matthew P. Kraeuter are Judge Grimm’s law clerks. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors alone and not the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. 1

See FED. R. EVID. 502 advisory committee’s note (“[Rule 502] responds to the widespread complaint that litigation costs necessary to protect against waiver of attorney–client privilege or work product have become prohibitive due to the concern that any disclosure (however innocent or minimal) will operate as a subject matter waiver of all protected communications or information.”). 2

See, e.g., J. Michael Rediker, E-mail and Document Production in Native Format, in 767 PRACTICING LAW INSTITUTE, LITIGATION AND ADMINISTRATIVE PRACTICE COURSE HANDBOOK SERIES, LITIGATION 195, 206-07 (2007) (discussing concerns over waiver of privilege in e-discovery situations).


Richmond Journal of Law and Technology

Vol. XVII, Issue 3

or read any article or lawyer survey addressing concerns about the escalating costs of pretrial discovery, particularly in cases where ESI discovery is expected to be prominent, and you also will hear that one of the greatest costs of discovery is the pre-production review of ESI designed to ensure that privileged or protected information is not disclosed.3 [2] The enactment of Federal Rule of Evidence 502 (“Rule 502”) in 2008 was intended to provide a vehicle to reduce the anxiety and costs associated with privilege review, but to date it has not lived up to its promise.4 The explanation for why Rule 502 has fallen short may have to do with the reality that a disappointingly small number of lawyers seem to be aware of the rule and its potential, despite the fact that the rule is over two years old.5 Also, courts have not interpreted Rule 502 with sufficient consistency in reported decisions to enable practitioners and their clients to predict how they will fare if they attempt to take advantage of the rule to reduce the need for manual, document-by-document pre-production review by either employing electronic search and retrieval methodologies or entering into time and money saving non-waiver agreements.6 [3] This Article will address the twin impediments to a fuller adoption of Rule 502 from the perspective of a trial judge who often is involved with regulating the discovery process in civil cases. This Article also provides the perspective of one who is particularly familiar with the goals that underlie the enactment of Rule 502, having authored one of the cases that discussed the then-existing state of the law on the eve of the adoption


See, e.g., Clayton L. Barker & Philip W. Goodin, Discovery of Electronically Stored Information, 64 J. MO. B. 12, 18 (2008) (discussing the “staggering” costs associated with pre-production review of ESI for privileged information). 4

See FED. R. EVID. 502 advisory committee’s note.