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A Beginner's Guide to Service Options in e-Discovery Translation

Gretchen Lennon - ULG

Editor's Note: With the recent release of Translate for RelativityOne, we thought it was a great time to share again this post from a few years ago on the basics of translating data for e-discovery.

Cross-border litigation can be complicated and costly.

However, if law firms plan ahead and establish a process to address multilingual demands identified in e-discovery, legal teams can save time and money in what can be a very difficult undertaking.

Because global commerce and new technology have made foreign language e-discovery ubiquitous, legal professionals should acquaint themselves with best practices for translation in multilingual litigation.

The right resources, technology, and procedures can ensure the litigation process is efficient, enabling attorneys to focus on litigation strategy and ultimately reduce expenses. Let’s review some common bottlenecks in multilingual e-discovery and how to prevent them.

Should You Hire Externally or Use In-House Translators?

When a matter includes thousands of foreign language documents, it may require expertise and bandwidth that in-house translation teams can’t accommodate. In conjunction with in-house multilingual resources, many law firms outsource translation when there is a need for industry expertise, certification of translation, or specialized technology to accommodate high volumes and tight deadlines.

When the need arises for human translation, language services providers can employ translators with not only strong linguistic knowledge, but also a grasp on the legal industry and the industry expertise required for the matter at hand. With a dedicated language team, a project manager can manage translators and keep a multilingual case moving.

Language service providers can also employ a translation management system to streamline data transfer and collection throughout the process. In addition, a strong translation management system also includes machine translation capabilities that keep projects efficient and inexpensive.

Humans or Machines?

One of the growing areas of interest in the language industry is when, and to what extent, machine translation should be used. As a general rule, machine translation should act as a supplemental resource, typically to help cull document sets or provide the gist of a document’s meaning. Machine translation is often the first step in translation, and human translators are contracted for a complete translation.

Applying language identification technology is vital during e-discovery in cross-border litigation. It rapidly scans through all documents and identifies which materials are in a foreign language, reports the volume of foreign language documents, and gives insight into the language of each document. This allows firms to identify what languages their documents are written in before deciding to have the materials translated by technology or a team of human linguists.

Chances are, not every document involved needs to be translated. Handing off pertinent documents to human translators while using machine translation for informational purposes only can cut costs and reduce workloads.

Items that are crucial to a case should always be handled by a professional translator. Even the best systems can’t handle complicated text that relies heavily on context or nuances.

Keep Your Source Files Secure

When engaged in legal matters, operating in a secured environment is essential. Language service providers with secure file transfer protocols and data storage within their translation systems keep your sensitive information protected.

As tempting as it may be, it’s never a good idea to translate e-discovery documents using free online tools like Google or Bing Translate. These services might be able to give you the “gist” translation you need, but they also store your data.

From Google’s Terms of Service:

“When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.”

If you hire a service provider with an encrypted data storage and transfer system, you can rest assured your client’s data will not be compromised.

The Bells and Whistles

We’ve already touched on some of the tools that can streamline your e-discovery process: machine translation, an effective project management portal, and language identification. But there are other areas to consider.

The first, are “translation memory” and glossary capabilities, where words or phrases that appear frequently in documents only need to be translated once before being recognized by a system. This is an excellent way to control costs.

When running OCR, consider how keyword searches can expand to foreign language documents. Linguists can assist in translating key search terms to ensure consistent terms are applied to all documents, regardless of the language.

Editor's Addition: There is a new solution to help streamline your e-discovery translation that utilizes machine learning and keeps your documents secure. Translate in RelativityOne quickly and securely translates documents in their native format into more than 100 languages without ever leaving the platformsaving you time and money on your next foreign language project.

Matters of the Law

Conducting successful multilingual e-discovery requires a number of moving parts. Planning ahead and knowing what your goals are will prevent obstacles common to cross-border litigation.

No matter where you are, abiding by data security regulations is paramount. Legislation like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), along with the EU-US Privacy Shield, are just the beginning. According to Gartner, 65 percent of the world’s population will have its personal data covered under modern privacy regulations by 2023, so it’s critical for e-discovery providers to constantly reexamine their processes to remain compliant.