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How to Find a Quantum of Solace With Multi-Language eDiscovery

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” These words, spoken by James Bond in From Russia With Love, encapsulate
the fears many have in the wake of the UK’s historic vote to Brexit the EU. Amid continued warnings about markets collapsing and financial losses, the heightened risks involving legal entanglements abroad could become an afterthought. But organizations that do business abroad should not overlook the significant implications of Brexit in an eDiscovery context, given the greater likelihood of cross-border litigation and regulatory scrutiny that will implicate the review of multilingual documents.

How are legal teams preparing to contend with multi-lingual discovery? Here are three best practices, as explained by Bond himself.

Limited budgets hamper the ability to lay eyes on every document in a collection; moreover, discovery timelines make manual review impractical. With the additional costs of multi-language reviews, organizations are looking to ways to curtail the time required to isolate relevant information by lowering the number of documents for review and accelerating review speed. For document collections rife with multi-language documents, organizations are opting for a first-pass review by native speakers to narrow the pool of documents that require translation. In addition, analytics tools such as deduplication and near-duplicate identification can cull replicas from collections, while e-mail threading and concept clustering can link documents related by idea or by relationships, all of which can speed the identification of pertinent custodians and troubling activity. Predictive coding (which also can work with any language) can project which documents are most likely to contain pertinent information and prioritize them for quicker review.

Finally, a new generation of analytics technology is capable of aggregating prior and current data across an organization’s casework, taking attorney decisions from past matters and predictively applying them to future matters to unlock substantial costs and detect risk early on.

  1. “In my business, you prepare for the unexpected.” (License to Kill)

    Given the global nature of business, organizations collecting documents—from abroad or otherwise—should consider whether their data sets might contain documents written in languages other than English.
    The easiest way to detect the presence of multi-lingual documents in a collection is to choose an eDiscovery review platform with the ability to analyze language by sentence instead of by document. Knowing this information helps organizations choose the right tools and recruit the proper resources to match the complexity of the review.

  2. “I always enjoyed learning a new tongue.” (Tomorrow Never Dies)

    Add the difficulty of reviewing documents written in multiple languages to emerging forms of communication that rely on business jargon or informal slang, such as text messaging, Bloomberg Chat, and social networks, and it’s a perfect storm for businesses attempting to parse text using search terms. Legal teams can handle these obstacles in large document populations in one of two ways. To get a rough idea of a document’s content and relevance, they can employ machine translation tools. But to get more accurate results, they will need to recruit document reviewers conversant in not only in the language but also in its cultural and contextual nuances. For this reason, counsel frequently turn to eDiscovery providers with a ready, scalable roster of expert reviewers with verified credentials.

  3. “This time I’ve got the gadgets, and I know how to use them.” (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)

For additional insights into managing the multi-lingual legal and compliance challenges emerging from Brexit, “Avoiding Post-Brexit Multilingual Review Pitfalls,” published last week in the New York Law Journal, provides a best practices guide.