Family Law

Family Law News 2017, Issue 4, Volume 39, No. 4

Why ESI Scares Me as a Solo Practitioner

Stephen D. Hamilton

Stephen D. Hamilton has been an attorney for 22 years, with a practice devoted almost exclusively to family law for 20 of those years. He has been a Certified Specialist in Family Law since 2004. He is currently a member of the California Family Law Executive Committee, for which he is the Legislation Chair. He is a member of ACFLS and serves on the ACFLS Outreach and Amicus Committees. He is also chairperson of the San Luis Obispo County Family Law Section.

ESI, or "Electronically Stored Information," frightens me. I am afraid because the California State Bar has told me to be afraid. Each of us has specific, mandatory responsibilities when it comes to identifying, producing and securing our client’s ESI. The scope of those responsibilities can be daunting for the solo practitioner.

I am confident I am not alone in my fear. I recently presented "Ten Things You Need to Know about ESI" to the San Luis Obispo County Family Law Section. Midway through my presentation, I noticed concerned looks and ashen faces in the audience. I halted my presentation and asked the attendees what they thought so far of the topic. The most memorable response: "This is scary stuff." On one of the Activity Evaluation Forms, an attendee wrote, "Terrifying."

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