About the Council
Work of the Pilot Program
The Seventh Circuit Electronic Discovery Pilot Program Committee ("Committee") was formed in May 2009 to conduct a multi-year, multi-phase process to develop, implement, evaluate, and improve pretrial litigation procedures that would provide fairness and justice to all parties while seeking to reduce the cost and burden of electronic discovery consistent with Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. To that end we brought together the most talented experts in the Seventh Circuit from all sectors of the bar, including government lawyers, plaintiffs' lawyers, defense lawyers, and in house lawyers from companies with large information systems, as well as experts in relevant fields of technology. These experts developed Principles Relating to the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information (“Principles”), and a Standing Order by which participating judges implement the Principles in the Pilot Program test cases.
The Committee conducted Phase One of the Pilot Program from October 2009 through March 2010. In order to provide an early indication of any needed adjustments, Phase One was limited in duration and the Phase One Report provides only a partial and initial "snapshot" of how the Principles appeared to be working in practice. The full report is available at https://www.ediscoverycouncil.com/. In summary, the participating judges overwhelmingly felt that the Principles were having a positive effect on counsel’s attention to and knowledge about relevant technology when addressing electronic discovery issues with the Court. In particular, the judges felt that the involvement of e-discovery liaisons required by Principle 2.02 contributes to a more efficient discovery process. Many of the participating lawyers reported little impact on their cases, presumably mostly because of the limited duration of Phase One. But those who did feel an effect from the Principles overwhelmingly reported that it was positive in terms of promoting fairness, fostering more amicable dispute resolution, and facilitating zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients.
The Committee completed Phase Two of the Pilot Program in May 2012. The Committee is now engaged in Phase Three. The Committee continues to promote discovery procedures that resolve civil cases in as "just, speedy, and inexpensive" a manner as possible, with the goal of providing justice to all parties while minimizing the cost and burden of discovery.
Chief District Judge James F. Holderman formed the Pilot Program in 2009 and guided the Program until his retirement from the bench in 2015. Chief Judge Ruben Castillo has continued the strong support that the Pilot Program has received from the Northern District of Illinois throughout the Program's lifetime.
Magistrate Judge Nan R. Nolan served as Chair of the Pilot Program from its inception until her retirement from the bench in 2012. Magistrate Judge Sheila Finnegan chaired the Pilot Program from 2012 to 2016. Magistrate Judge Iain D. Johnston has served as Chair of the Pilot Program since 2016.
The Pilot Program is administered by a Steering Committee. Chris King and Meghan Mathias chair the Steering Committee.
The Committee functions through its dedicated volunteer members. Members include practicing attorneys, judges, and others active in litigation support and the ediscovery field, including academics and consultants. Potential members are screened by the Membership Subcommittee. Most, but not all members possess a J.D., but ediscovery vendors also share their talents with the Committee, working with the Technology Subcommittee. Members may be nominated by current members, or may self-nominate. For more information on membership, see the Membership Committee page, or contact the Membership Committee Chair.