Businesses of all types and sizes throughout the United States, Mexico and beyond bring their disputes to Gardere's litigation team and receive practical, responsive, boutique-style attention in return. Our clients have access to the firepower and value of a well-known and highly-regarded Firm's capabilities and interdisciplinary strengths.
Gardere has a national and international energy practice formed around our Energy Industry Team, which is a multidisciplinary group of approximately 60 attorneys with diverse backgrounds, experience and skills specific to the energy industry. Our team includes attorneys who have served as in-house counsel for major energy companies, providing a depth of insight into our clients' needs, issues and concerns. We understand and regularly practice in virtually every sector of the energy, and we represent a wide variety of industry participants from multinational corporations to individuals.
From our offices in the United States and Mexico, our International Practice helps clients operate in today’s global economy. We have more than 30 professionals operating as a boutique within an Am Law 200 law firm and are able to provide focused service with the resources of a large firm. We understand that clients who are engaged in the global marketplace need lawyers who can operate seamlessly across multiple jurisdictions. Our international experts are multi-lingual, are culturally fluent and intimately familiar with various legal systems across the world, especially those in Latin America. Whether you need help with commercial transactions, regulatory matters, customs and import regulations, immigration matters, M&A and joint ventures, international disputes, or international tax planning, Gardere’s international team is here to assist you.
We represent domestic and foreign private funds in all aspects of fund formation, fund operations, platform and add-on acquisitions, and portfolio company operations. Our team has a reputation for being the go-to-lawyers for private equity funds, hedge funds, venture capital funds and family offices. We are known for our vast deal experience, the efficient way we staff and manage our work, and the way we maintain our relationships. We get deals done with sophisticated, strategic, and practical advice tailored to the needs of our clients.
*Not admitted to practice law.
By Peter S. Vogel
The use of computers and the Internet has transformed business throughout the world. As a result, the proliferation of electronically stored information (ESI) continues to grow. The impact on general counsel is that every single suite has some ESI involved, and one cannot ignore the complexity that social media brings to ESI. This article will address how ESI-sensitive trained mediators and how special masters (e-neutrals) can help general counsel control e-discovery.
The term e-neutral identifies an individual, neutral to the litigation, who can help guide the litigants and the courts through the complexities of ESI to try to minimize costly motions and, at the same time, allow parties to better control the e-discovery process.
With the 1987 passage of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, Texas became the U.S. leader in requiring parties to include the mediation conference as part of every suit. In those early years, as mediation gained a foothold in Texas courts, attorneys saw the mediation conference as a way to resolve claims, settle disputes and move on.
A few years ago, Allison Skinner found that using the mediation conference for e-discovery disputes helped litigants reduce costs and get more control over the process. Skinner is with Sirote & Permutt and is a full-time neutral in Birmingham, Alabama. She is also an adjunct professor of e-discovery at the University of Alabama School of Law and a visiting professor at Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. Her alternative dispute resolution (ADR) successes led her to write a few articles about what she has coined "e-mediation."
Generally, the e-mediation process Skinner created devotes the mediation conference solely to manage ESI. The e-mediator is involved with the parties early in the case, before discovery gets under way. The parties submit e-mediation statements that include details about the technical skills of those who will attend the e-mediation, including who will provide technical support for the ESI. Often this person is the chief information officer, chief technology officer or information technology (IT) director.
People skilled in IT rarely have studied law, so they generally do not understand discovery as well as trial lawyers and general counsel. So, each side to an e-mediation can have confidential caucuses with the IT representative who knows about the ESI, the general counsel, the trial lawyer and the e-mediator. During these private caucuses a mediation e-discovery plan (MEP) can be devised so that there is a well-managed road map for discovery of ESI. Hopefully the MEP will minimize motion practice, which can make discovery less expensive and at the same time not force the judge to try to understand the IT and ESI issues for the parties in addition to the unique facts of the case.
In state and federal courts the use of a special master can help judges and parties alike with specific issues such as ESI. When appointing an ESI special master, a trial judge recently stated - after many hearings and frustration between the parties about ESI disputes - that a special master ESI would allow the "geeks to talk to the geeks."
Special masters can be technical IT experts about ESI who are not lawyers or lawyers with specialized technical expertise about ESI. Lawyers who are trained in ESI can better assist judges as special masters, since they are conversant with the rules of evidence and procedure. Special masters in ESI disputes may conduct hearings and issue orders regarding ESI, which may be appealed directly to the judge.
In the spring of 2011, Skinner and I founded the American College of e-Neutrals (ACESIN), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the education, training, credentialing and use of e-neutrals. The term "e-neutrals" includes all third-party referees - mediators, arbitrators, masters, judges, liaisons and magistrates - committed to resolving disputes arising from ESI. ACESIN fellows are the country's first group of e-neutrals specially trained to conduct "e-mediations" and other extrajudicial forums. An e-neutral who is an ACESIN fellow has met the highest standards of knowledge, training and experience in dispute resolution and e-discovery as determined by ACESIN's advisory board. An ACESIN fellow stands ready to assist litigants and the courts in resolving e-discovery disputes in an efficient and effective manner through the use of e-mediations or court appointments.
ACESIN provides training and resources for e-neutrals that we believe will assist lawyers, mediators and judges in better dealing with ESI.
Peter S. Vogel is a Trial Partner with the Dallas office of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP where he is Chair of theElectronic Discovery Group and Chair of the Internet, eCommerce and Technology Industry Team. Before practicing law, he was a systems programmer on mainframes, received a master's degree in computer science and taught graduate courses in information systems and operations research. His blog covers contemporary technology topics. Peter can be reached at 214.999.4422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, an AmLaw 200 firm founded in 1909 and one of the Southwest's largest full-service law firms, has offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston and Mexico City. Gardere provides legal services to private and public companies and individuals in areas of corporate, energy, environmental, financial services, government affairs, hospitality, intellectual property, labor and employment, litigation, real estate and tax.
The publications contained in this site do not constitute legal advice. Legal advice can only be given with knowledge of the client's specific facts. By putting these publications on our website we do not intend to create a lawyer-client relationship with the user. Materials may not reflect the most current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. This information should in no way be taken as an indication of future results.
You may use the wildcard symbol (*) as a root expander. A search for "anti*" will find not only "anti", but also "anti-trust", "antique", etc.
Entering two terms together in a search field will behave as though an "OR" is being used. For example, entering "Antique Motorcars" as a Client Name search will find results with either word in the Client Name.
AND and OR may be used in a search. Note: they must be capitalized, e.g., "Project AND Finance."
The + and - sign operators may be used. The + sign indicates that the term immediately following is required, while the - sign indicates to omit results that contain that term. E.g., "+real -estate" says results must have "real" but not "estate".
To perform an exact phrase search, surround your search phrase with quotation marks. For example, "Project Finance".
Searches are not case sensitive.