The Discovery stage of litigation is where the parties to a lawsuit expend the greatest amount of effort. Some commentators would say that discovery has become the litigation process. The pleadings step generally does not require a lot of effort, and, because nearly all cases settle before trial, trials have become fairly rare events. Just about all of the effort in litigation is in discovery.

The sub-steps of the discovery step might be described as follows: (1) an initial planning conference with the judge; (2) actual discovery; and (3) a conference to certify that discovery has been completed. In some cases, there might be an interim status conference allowing the judge the assess the progress of discovery. There might also be a few, hopefully not many, and maybe none, motions to address discovery disputes.

Although this description fairly describes the discovery process in federal court, where discovery cannot even start until there has been an initial planning conference, discovery is New York State courts progresses in less predictable ways. For example, in New York State Supreme Court litigation, the parties are expected to conduct discovery with little, if any, court supervision. In some cases, the initial planning conference might also be the certification conference. In lower trial courts in New York, such as New York City Civil Court, or District Court in Nassau or Suffolk County, there are no initial planning conferences. Although the court will limit the number of adjournments, based on the needs of the case, in these lower courts, your case is just periodically called for a court conference and adjourned until all parties say they are ready to proceed to trial..

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