Litigators, Which Discovery Tool will Benefit You the Most?

Charles Adant Du Picq once said, “The instruments of battle are valuable only if one knows how to use them.” This notion holds true for many civil practitioners today. For all litigators, whether state or federal, there are six basic discovery weapons or devices. It is imperative to understand all aspects of discovery tools in order to yield successful results against your opponent.

According to Ashley Lipson, author of Guerrilla Discovery and Is it Admissible?, timing and sequence is highly imperative when using these devices. Requests for Admissions are typically used during mild preliminary skirmishes, while depositions are hand-to-hand combat and more dangerous. The author’s favorite discovery tool is interrogatories as they inflict the most pain and work onto your opponent with the least amount of work and effort on your part.

Lipson further explains that Interrogatories are “a powerful weapon for laying foundations for the admissibility of evidence at a later date. It is also a potent tool for identifying and pinpointing the existence, custody, and location of tangible items, documents and other evidence that might later be the subject of other discovery weapons.”

The following is a chart excerpted from Ashley Lipson’s Guerrilla Discovery:

Weapons Chart


Your Cost

Enemy Cost

Potential for Evasion

Unique Advantage

Key Disadvantage

Request for Admissions $ $$ Moderate Has self-executing consequences Easily evaded unless skilfully drafted
Interrogatories $ $$ High Is inexpensive and very flexible Often evaded unless skilfully drafted
Notice for Production $ $$$ High Requires enemy to locate and produce information Can make you victim of live burial
Notice for inspection $$ $$ Low Permits first-hand inspection Expert assistance may be required
Physical or mental examination $$ $$ Low Enemy gets poked and stuck Normally requires motion and showing of “good cause”
Depositions $$$$ $$$$ Moderate Allows face-to-face cross-examination Judge is not present to prevent evasion

For more helpful information and useful forms, check out Guerrilla Discovery.