Complex cases can be a discovery nightmare, especially if you don't have a handle on what information will be most important to your case. Figuring this out involves thinking ahead to trial--towards the plaintiff's proof and the defendant's defenses--well before you normally would.
Two tools to help you get your mind around complex cases are pattern jury instructions and trial notebooks. Both will get you thinking about the trial evidence that you'll need to pin down in discovery.
If you want yet another method, try this mental game. Imagine you are going to a file a motion for summary judgment. It doesn't matter whether you're on plaintiff's side or the defendant's: using pattern jury instructions or case law, ask what proof will be required at trial. Think not only about the claims and defenses, but proving them up with real-life evidence. This exercise will allow you to answer some follow-up questions:
- What facts are material to the claims or defenses?
- Which ones are likely to be undisputed?
- Which ones are likely to remain in dispute?
Once you list these facts in what I call a "proof chart" -- a necessary component of any trial notebook -- you'll be well on your way to making sure your discovery plan covers all the facts that will be most critical at trial.