159 Document Requests


As usual, the young associate attorneys were lined up at Jensen’s door with their questions as soon as he came to work in the morning.  At 64, Jensen was the law firm’s senior divorce attorney.  He kept his door open and he liked helping the less experienced lawyers learn the ropes.

“Opposing counsel sent 159 document requests,” said Paul, first in line, “and the client wants to know why I only sent 20.  Should I send another request so that I have one more than the other side?”

“That’s ridiculous,” said Jensen fiddling with the chain of his pocket watch.  “We’re practicing law here, not counting document requests.  If you used our standard requests, you have covered everything.  They are written in a concise and elegant way to ask for all documents that are necessary in a divorce case.  I’m sure that opposing counsel’s list is superfluous, duplicative, and overlapping.  Many of your responses will be that no such documents exist.”

“Isn’t opposing counsel being unethical then?” Paul asked.

“Not at all,” said Jensen.  “The discovery rules don’t put a limit on document requests like they do on interrogatories.  So lawyers are free to ask for as many as they can think of and clients, who don’t know any better, are impressed.  And once you’ve copied somebody’s 159 requests into your computer, it’s easy to do it in the next case simply by pushing a button.”

“So why don’t we do that?” Paul asked.

“Because our job is not to see who can have the most document requests, but to get the documents that we need for the case, and help our clients.  And your job is not to make more document requests, but to educate our client.”