Managing The Translation Process To Make Multilingual E-Discovery Easier


Salvador Ordorica is the CEO of The Spanish Group LLC, a first-class international translation service that translates over 90 languages.

E-discovery is a complex issue when done in your native tongue, and by adding more languages, you exponentially increase the complexity of the matter. There is also the issue that in our modern age, the rate at which we generate information is growing by orders of magnitude. It was estimated that by 2025, there would be roughly 200 zettabytes of information in the digital universe, well over the number of stars in our galaxy. This means that the discovery process in our digitized and globalized age will be a growing challenge.

Our world is increasingly tech-based and globalized. Technology is ever more critical to today’s lawyers, and effective collaboration with linguists and tech specialists is essential to take on the challenges of many of today’s cases. However, with the intense speed of progression, many are left trying to figure out precisely the best methods for incorporating these new elements. As the CEO of a translating service, I will briefly offer some tips on how one should approach the challenges of e-discovery using the tools at our disposal in 2022.

Address the unique challenges of multilingual e-discovery.

E-discovery is an essential part of the legal system and provides a formal process of exchanging information between the parties involved in a lawsuit. This has always been a time consuming and often complex process, and the addition of electronic data has only made it more complicated. Emails, social media accounts, databases and the countless other modes of communication technology have provided us must all be included.

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Another layer of complexity is added when these communications have to be conducted in two or more languages. In many cases, dozens of pages of communications must be translated before the necessary legal professionals can even review them. Multilingual situations also typically involve multiple jurisdictions, forcing legal counsel to work through several conflicting laws regarding procedures for the storage, retrieval and removal of documents.

Build your team on a diverse skill set.

The multilingual discovery requires an entire team to conduct a proper investigation. Today a modern e-discovery team may contain several linguists and legal professionals and even employ aspects of machine translation. However, many of these techniques are relatively young, and the best practices for e-discovery and technology are not universally agreed upon. What is understood is that with the right tools and expertise on hand, the process of electronic discovery can cut down the process by hours, if not days.

Don’t overdo machine translation.

However, one of the most common missteps in the language industry is an overreliance on machine translation. While machine translation is faster and less expensive than manual translation, and has only gotten more so in recent years, it has virtually zero ability to detect nuance or language usage such as metaphors or sarcasm. These issues often lead to translation errors that can be devastating for a legal team.

I find machine translation is best used to augment your team and to help give you a rough understanding of less critical documentation, as well as to parse through papers and help you to arrange your focus. This solution may be an essential tool, but overreliance can cause mistakes and critical oversights. Use it to maximize your translator’s time. Typically, machines will locate and identify essential documents for the translators to then work on.

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Focus on how you manage your team.

The key to a successful and smooth e-discovery process is much the same as a traditional multilingual discovery process; you need to build your strategies around skilled legal translators and have managers in place with the experience to see the task through.

Finding the proper legal experts can be tough, though, especially when you need to regularly find experts who can work within different languages. The first step in proper discovery translation planning is to hold onto those workers with the relevant skillsets once you find them.

A knowledgeable discovery team will be able to use the combined abilities of machine translation and a legal translator to produce excellent results, even with tight deadlines. There is no hard science to this, as the situation will dictate, but with a proper balance of these two elements, you can translate many documents with a great deal of reliability.

Balance subject matter expertise with experience.

The balancing of these forces and the plan you implement throughout discovery will come down to the project manager. Managing these projects requires an in-depth knowledge of the language and subject matter in question, and depending on the demands your company has, it may make sense to bring in a handful of professionals or, if the range of requirements is too great, to contract these translation needs out to a partner (Disclosure: My company helps with this.). A combination of both, augmenting an internal team as you build it up, may be your best solution.

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If you decide to bring in an outside professional, look for someone who speaks the target language and can communicate directly with translators as well as review their work. This person should also understand the relevant legal subject matter to the extent that they are able to decide what documents fit certain relevancy categories. Experience is also required to create a streamlined process that is not generating unnecessary errors.

Strategic use of machines is how you make multilingual e-discovery easier in 2022.

Ultimately, the balance you strike between technological and human solutions will come down to the process you create and the items you are reviewing. Machine translation and other time-saving technological tools should be used in direct correlation with your budget and time constraints. The more time and money you have, the less you should be relying on today’s algorithms to take over.

However, for most of us, the use of machines adds intense levels of processing power to the discovery process that can be invaluable for finding essential needles in document haystacks.


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