A common task in a young litigator's career is drafting written discovery requests. Before discovery requests are propounded, you should understand the rules of the jurisdiction and the court as to the number and scope of discovery requests that are permissible. For instance, if the case is in federal court, it is important when preparing the draft scheduling order to be aware of potential limits on the number of interrogatories/requests for production a party may serve, and limitation on the scope of the topics that may be addressed during discovery. As you craft written discovery, you should have already made efforts to investigate the case with your client. This critical step will give you an advantage on the types of information and documents that the other side might have available and will assist you in crafting discovery requests that take direct aim at gathering these materials.
When propounding interrogatories that will garner the correct and expected information, the requests should be as clear and concise as possible, and define ambiguous terms in the interrogatory or in a centralized place in the document. Wherever possible, use uniform interrogatories that have already been pre-approved by the jurisdiction you are in, which gives your adversary little room to object to supplying complete and responsive answers.
Again, the key to ensuring that your requests garner the right documents is to make sure that the requests are as clear and concise as possible. Do not limit requests to certain types of materials if it is possible that the requested information could be found in other types of materials. In this circumstance, consider all possible mediums on which the requested information might be available and specifically request the information in all possible formats, including electronically stored information. For instance, if you are looking to obtain statements made by eyewitnesses to an accident, it is best to request copies of documents, video recordings, and audio recordings. In this scenario, if only documents are requested, and your adversary has a tape-recorded statement that he wishes to hide, he will succeed in doing so if the request is not worded or defined properly.