I can still remember the first time I was asked to conduct a “custodian interview.” I emphatically nodded my head “yes” and assured the partner that I was up to the challenge—as all new lawyers are trained to do. But beneath my confident exterior, all I could think was: “What in the world is a custodian interview?” Little did I know, conducting custodian interviews would soon become one of my recurring duties.
A custodian interview is a necessary, but often undervalued, initial step in any litigation. It involves asking your own client where and how files are stored (electronically and in hard copy) and how many potentially responsive documents there may be. If done correctly, it not only ensures that you collect all potentially responsive documents—and perhaps that “smoking gun”—but also acts as a solid defense against attacks on the sufficiency of your document collection. For those reasons, custodian interviews must be robust, detailed, and well documented.