The increase in international litigation and investigations means that more and more e-discovery projects now include foreign language data. Even when document collection takes place exclusively in the United States, it is not uncommon to find a number of foreign language documents included in the mix of potentially responsive data. Multilingual documents add a layer of complexity to e-discovery projects, and when not properly handled can increase costs substantially.
Most e-discovery and litigation support service providers are not really equipped to handle foreign language data, and those that are rarely have the linguistic expertise and translation tools to process, review, and translate the relevant documents into English in an efficient and cost-effective way. Relying on multilingual attorneys to review all the foreign language documents can be prohibitively expensive; obtaining word-for-word translations of all the documents is more expensive still. And trying to decipher hundreds of pages of machine translated text is not only time-consuming (and therefore expensive) but also yields inaccurate results since the quality of most machine translations is still quite poor.
The ideal solution is to integrate professional language services into the e-discovery workflow, by partnering with a company that offers legal translation services as well as e-discovery support. Trained linguists working in tandem with the e-discovery team can help identify, process, and review foreign language documents, and reduce the document collection so that only relevant and responsive documents are translated. They can help ensure that documents are correctly identified by language and that keyword searches are performed efficiently. For example, when performing keyword searches on French documents collected during an FCPA investigation, it’s not enough to simply translate search terms like “bribe” and “government official” into French. A smart search will include other French words and expressions with similar meanings. An interactive process that includes both translators and the case team can help identify all relevant documents, and avoid unnecessary translations.
To sum up, the best approach to multilingual e-discovery is a proactive one: instead of waiting for the e-discovery process to take its course and then dealing with foreign language documents, partner with a solution provider that has both e-discovery expertise as well as translation expertise. This will help reduce the number of documents that ultimately need to be translated, and also help you avoid numerous headaches along the way.
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