“We find now that we live in an environment where events – both micro and macro – are governed by the capacity to store information,” said the Honorable Paul W. Grimm, Chief Magistrate of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, as he spoke to an audience of lawyers and students in the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom on Monday, March 14th as part of a CLE series entitled “eDiscovery Superstars: Perspectives from the Federal Bench.”
“It is impossible to get the genie back in the bottle in terms of the amount of information that is stored now,” Grimm said, adding that the ability for lawyers to request that information “has become so overwhelming that we are pricing people out of the judicial system” because the discovery process is simply too expensive. “We are drowning in digital data,” he stated before suggesting that the law has been unable to keep up with the rapid development of new technologies.
Judge Grimm discussed issues of digital preservation and the proportionality of information requests during the discovery process. He also suggested, however, that technology can be a solution as well as a problem, noting that machines were much more efficient at conducting keyword searches than human beings.
“Accept the fact that technology will always outpace the law, and learn to use it,” Grimm urged the future lawyers in the audience, suggesting that lawyers have an ethical obligation to understand the relevant information systems in any case they are trying. He concluded by calling digital information “both the greatest cost and the greatest opportunity” for lawyers moving forward.
Following his remarks, Judge Grimm took questions from the audience on a range of topics. Asked about common mistakes he sees lawyers make, he cited a lack of knowledge about the information systems relevant to the case and not knowing how to prepare witnesses with technical expertise. “When you need technical advice, you need to get it,” he said.
The Honorable Paul W. Grimm graduated from the University of California, Davis, where he received an A.B. in Classical Rhetoric, and in 1976, he graduated magna cum laude from the University of New Mexico School of Law. Grimm joined the State’s Attorney’s Office for Baltimore County, Maryland in 1980 and shortly thereafter became an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maryland. He worked in private practice handling commercial litigation from 1984 until 1997, when he was appointed as a United States Magistrate Judge for U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. He was elevated to the position of Chief Magistrate Judge in 2006, and has presided in a number of landmark cases related to electronic discovery.
The “eDiscovery Superstars: Perspectives from the Federal Bench” CLE series was jointly sponsored by the Richard K. Herrmann Technology Inn of Court and the Widener University School of Law.