Effective August 14, 2018, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee made a number of revisions to its Local Rules. Many of the changes were tailored to combat practical issues experienced by litigators in the Middle District, and are intended to reflect the realities of modern law practice. While there are numerous cosmetic changes and minor nuances that require attention, some of the important revisions for commercial litigators are as follows:
- Meet and confer requirement is spelled out more clearly: Changes to Local Rule 7.01 clarify the Middle District’s meet and confer requirement prior to filing certain motions. With the exception of dispositive motions, all motions now require inclusion of a statement by the moving party that it has conferred with all other counsel and whether the relief requested by the motion is opposed.
- Motions for leave to reply are no longer necessary: Additional changes to Local Rule 7.01 now allow litigants to file a reply brief as a matter of right. Previously, litigants were required to seek leave of court to file a reply to a non-dispositive motion. Leave of court is no longer required, and a five-page reply may be submitted within 7 days of receiving a response.
- Unreported cases no longer need to be attached to motions: Gone are the days of attaching hundreds of pages of cases to short motions. Given the availability and widespread use of electronic legal research, further updates to Local Rule 7.01 provide that a Westlaw or Lexis citation is sufficient.
- Counsel must provide a Word version of discovery requests: In an effort to avoid the time-consuming practice of typing out all of the discovery requests propounded by an opposing party before typing the responses, changes to Local Rule 26.01 now require that counsel for the requesting party provide the discovery requests in an editable electronic format.
- New subpoena requirements: Revisions to Local Rule 45.01 create new procedural requirements in connection with the issuance of subpoenas. Under the new rule, a deponent cannot be subpoenaed until a Notice of Deposition has been served under Rule 30 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Moreover, whenever a party issues a subpoena duces tecum to a non-party, it must serve a copy of the subpoena on counsel for every other party at least two business days before serving the subpoena.
- Footnotes must be at least 12-point font: This rule change (set forth in Local Rule 7.03), however, represents a devastating blow for attorneys all too familiar with using 10-point font footnotes to cram in additional material while still complying with the page limits imposed by the Local Rules.
With the notable exception of changing the font size for footnotes, the changes to the Local Rules are designed to simplify the practice of law for commercial litigators in the Middle District. It is important for commercial litigators to familiarize themselves with the changes and with the Local Rules in general, as attention to detail in this regard is important to judges and reflects positively on both the attorney and the client.