For discovery to be useful in a case, it must be organized. One effective way to organize discovery is with an issue table. Issue tables are a way to keep track of the main issues, the elements of the claims and defenses, and the relevant evidence.

Issue tables are best explained with an example, so here’s a sample issue table designed for a simple negligence case. Of course, the issues you include in your table will depend on the facts and law governing your particular case.

Always review your issue tables frequently and revise them as necessary; when you learn about new issues and facts, update your tables. And depending on the nature and complexity of your case, you may decide to have separate tables for each cause of action or defense. In some cases, you may decide to add a column for subissues.


__________ Discovery Cutoff

__________ Discovery Motion Deadline

__________ Trial Date

Issue Plaintiff’s Evidence Defendant’s Evidence
Standard of Care
Issue Plaintiff’s Evidence Defendant’s Evidence
Plaintiff’s Negligence

If you found this sample helpful, you’ll love all the other discovery letters, checklists, and tables in CEB’s Creating Your Discovery Plan. For comprehensive coverage of all discovery issues, turn to CEB’s California Civil Discovery Practice.


This material is reproduced from Julie Brook’s blog entry, Organizing Discovery, on the CEB Blog May 24, 2013. Copyright 2013 by the Regents of the University of California. Reproduced with permission of Continuing Education of the Bar – California. For information about CEB publications, telephone toll free 1-800-CEB-3444 or visit our Web site:

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