Before filing a motion to compel discovery responses, the parties must engage in a “reasonable and good faith attempt at an informal resolution of each issue presented by the motion.” CCP §2016.040. What constitutes a good faith meet-and-confer effort depends on a variety of factors.
If you have a “dispute concerning discovery,” the law requires that you try to resolve it informally by conferring with the opposing side. This meet-and-confer requirement can be met in person, by telephone, or by letter. But a letter or email alone generally won’t cut it; to really meet and confer, you need to talk to opposing counsel.
In California, civil discovery is “self-executing,” i.e., a party demanding discovery doesn’t need prior court approval, and the responding party may object instead of providing the requested information. An objection often ends the matter, but sometimes it doesn’t, and the party resisting discovery has to consider moving for a protective order.