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Don't get lost in translation

With today's global litigation, you need savvy, fast document translation.

According to a recent Foreign Corrupt Practices Act alert, the cooperation among the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and international law enforcement authorities has increased in recent years, and continued strengthening of anticorruption legislation and enforcement overseas is expected. This persistent globalization, coupled with the growing mountain of electronically stored information (ESI), will inevitably lead to an increase in discovery requests for ESI located abroad.

In complex cross-border matters such as this, the stakes are high and getting higher. Now more than ever before, early case assessment, solid strategies and clear and insightful analytical strength are pivotal to prevailing in business disputes. Taking a strategic approach that incorporates translation technology and best practices into the foreign language e-discovery process increases productivity and reduces overall costs.

Empowering attorneys working a cross-border matter to quickly review foreign language documents or data themselves in English can accelerate decision making and improve outcomes. For example, translating the entire corpus into one language during the identification phase allows attorneys to quickly review documents themselves, without having to contract outside resources such as translators or reviewers. This will not only save money, but decrease the time it takes for them to identify relevant documents and start assessing the situation so they can put together a road map for how to proceed.going through a large amount of data, especially in a foreign language, with human review teams takes a lot of time and money. But there's hope. Machine Translation (MT) has the potential to increase productivity and reduce spending when running analytics, review or early case assessment (ECA) applications on a preferred single language for M&A, regulatory requests, internal investigations or litigation.

MT is the process by which computer software is used to translate text from one natural language to another. The size of the data collection compounds the savings of MT. It is ideal for reviewing and culling e-discovery data, where a cursory understanding and impression of the content is sufficient to determine if a certain custodian's content is worth analyzing in more detail.

Although the driver for MT is to gain a gist of the data, consistency in the translation is the key to its effectiveness in the process. Customized MT solutions that are specifically designed for each matter, as well as the languages that require translating, are particularly effective. For example, VIA incorporates specific key terms and phrases that improve the accuracy and increase the efficiency of the MT to quickly provide organizations with translations of their foreign language content. In addition, certain MT technologies are better suited for right-to-left languages (e.g., Arabic), while others have a more consistent result with romance languages (e.g., French).

Prior to processing the data for filtering and review, scan it to find out which foreign languages are present. Each country has its own innuendo and code words for bribery and corruption, making it easy for nonnative speakers to miss what's really being discussed. For example, in Cambodia they call it "tea money," and in South Korea the practice of "ttokkap," or gifts of cash typically placed in envelopes is literally translated as "rice cake expenses."

With MT you can quickly cross-check your data sets to make sure you've captured all the critical content for your team to review. The following process can be an optimal one for your first pass:

  • Start by having your counsel identify the keywords or phrases for the matter or case in English. Then search the translated content for the keywords.
  • Using the same concepts, determine keywords in the foreign language you are working with, and run a search for those terms in your foreign language data set.
  • Compare the two results sets to identify any additional documents that may need to be translated and placed in the English review set for the team.

Just like choosing the right law firm or e-discovery vendor, finding the right translation partner is worth the time and effort of the hunt. Your e-discovery vendor or outside counsel may already have a translation partner they like to work with, but that doesn't mean you can't have a say in the decision.

You want to use a translator you can trust to help you get the information you need and meet your production requirements. A good partner will not only understand the nuances of legal translation, but will adhere to industry best practices, understand the overall e-discovery strategy, and leverage technology to save you time and money. They will also adapt to your work flow, your schedules and your particular requirements.

The best way to evaluate your potential partner is by looking at their client list, asking for references and examining their work flow. Here are a few questions to ask when selecting a language partner:

How extensive are their resources, in terms of translators, reviewers and technologies such as machine translation, portals and reporting? A good firm should have a sufficient distribution of in-region translators with legal experience in multiple countries.

Are their clients willing to be a reference? Many projects are a one-time occurrence, but the vendor should also be able to provide examples of clients it works with on a recurring basis.

Do they have a secure portal that enables easy access and delivery? An online translation portal is an automated work flow system for managing translation orders, files and updates. This tool is especially useful for rapid 24/7 submitting and tracking of translation projects for legal resources with very limited turnaround time.

When faced with an overwhelming amount of e-discovery data to cull through in a short amount of time, you need partners you can count on. Translations are critical, but the strategy and execution of the project is key. Translation for the legal industry calls for professionals who understand the linguistic and legal nuances, as well as the ins and outs of the technology. Vendors that specialize in the legal translation market understand the specific timelines and work flows. And they should understand language technology and translation best practices. Choosing a vendor that has expertise in both sides of the process will help you get the maximum return on your investment.




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