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Hi, this is Stewart Albertson of Albertson & Davidson and I want to talk to you briefly about the meet and confer requirement that is imposed on us by many statutes in California law.

A meet and confer is where we are required as lawyers to meet with one another, whether it is in writing or on the phone, or at lunch or wherever we might meet, maybe at the courthouse after a hearing.  And discuss certain issues in a case to see if we can come to resolution of the issues ourselves, just the lawyers.  And, as you can probably guess, it rarely happens where lawyers come to resolution on these matters.  But the law wants us to attempt to try to resolve any differences we have in the case before we go and file any type of motion with the court.

We see these meet and confer requirements in discovery all the time.  So we propound discovery to the other side, which are written questions, saying that you must respond to our written questions within a certain time frame.  Generally thirty days.  Once those answers come back in, if we’re not satisfied that they were answered properly, under the discovery act, we can’t just run off to court, file a motion, waste the judge’s time, waste the court administrator’s time with a motion, prior to doing what we call a meet and confer.  And it’s a lengthy process.  We’re required to draft a long meet and confer letter to the opposing attorney and explain why we think they need to answer the discovery better.  Many times, they’ll tell us they think they’ve answered discovery just fine and if you think you need to file a motion to compel, go ahead. And then we file the motion to compel and ask the court to order the other side to answer the questions as required by the discovery act.

It’s important, though, that we do that meet and confer process first or the judge is not going to listen to our motion.  The judge wants to make sure that we at least attempt between the lawyers to resolve the differences before we run off to court and file a motion.

Recently, California amended several of its statutes regarding demurrer and motion for judgment on the pleadings.  And those were pleadings that we generally see right at the beginning of a case.  And we saw many defendants using these just as a response to any case that was filed against their client.  They would just automatically file a demurrer or a motion for judgment on the pleadings.

California law says now we want the lawyers to meet and confer prior to filing a demurrer or motion for judgment on the pleadings.  The whole idea behind a meet and confer, again, is for the lawyer who are hopefully responsible adults to sit down, analyze the case, analyze the chances of winning or losing a particular motion, whether it’s a demurrer, motion for judgment on the pleadings, motion to compel additional discovery.   Have them meet and confer and hopefully resolve that matter between themselves as responsible adults before we have to go tattle to the judge and get the judge to make a decision about what needs to happen.

I will tell you this – judges generally don’t like to have lawyers fighting in court over something that they should have been to resolve outside of court.  So your lawyers will attempt, hopefully, to do the best they can to resolve matters through the meet and confer process.  If they’re unable, then they’ll file whatever motion they need to to enforce your rights.

  • Paul Rogash

    Do you share meet and confer letters with your clients?

    • davidsonkeitha

      Well if we send a meet and confer letter on behalf of a client we may send a copy to the client, depending on the client’s preferences. Some clients want to see those type of letters, and some don’t. Of course, if a client requests a copy (or requests to be copied) on a meet and confer letter, then we are happy to do so.