Florida Mediator Robert Cole Writes on E-Discovery

Fall 2013 edition of the Trial Advocate Quarterly Fall 2013 edition of the Trial Advocate Quarterly: Click on the image for a PDF of Robert Cole's commentary.

Robert A. Cole, a shareholder with Upchurch Watson White & Max Mediation Group, is the author of a "viewpoint" article in the current issue of the Trial Advocate Quarterly, a publication of the Florida Defense Lawyers Association.

Bob explains why the time is now for e-discovery mediation in our state. Florida has aligned itself with the federal government in adopting comprehensive rules of civil procedure regarding electronically stored information; its lawyers are eager to uncover what was heretofore undiscoverable in this treasure trove of information; and the explosion of social media is enhancing these discovery opportunities in unprecedented ways.

He sees it as "a perfect storm of adversarial activity," and that is reflected in the commentary's title, "A Perfect Storm: The Need for E-Discovery Mediation in Florida."

"Together, these factors are rapidly expanding the discovery landscape and introducing issues of unprecedented depth and complexity," he says. "The result of that perfect storm: dramatically increasing demands on the courts to referee the inevitable conflicts among counsel that will arise."

Bob explores some of the ways the state's legal community is coping with the winds of change through mediated discovery management. "As with a traditional mediation settlement conference, the parties can come up with their own creative, mutually agreeable plan for e-discovery," he says. And he mentions institutional efforts to catalyze progress in this practice area, such as those of the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists, founded by a Miami attorney, and the University of Florida Law E-Discovery Project.

John Upchurch, fellow mediator and a founder of Upchurch Watson White & Max, is a collaborator in the UF project, creating "programs and materials to be offered jointly through the (Institute for Dispute Resolution) and the E-Discovery Project."

Bob is based in the Jacksonville office of Upchurch Watson White & Max but mediates throughout the state. He frequently presents programs on the topics of mediation and e-discovery, and spoke to a meeting of of the Florida Chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates (FLABOTA) this summer on the subject "Electronic Discovery and Electronic Forensics: A Primer on Technology and Comment on Mediation."

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