Back to Blog

How to Deal with Multilingual ESI in eDiscovery?

Published On : August 22, 2023
Multilingual ESI in eDiscovery

The modern business world is a global village. Businesses extend across borders, deal in multiple languages, and store an astronomical amount of data. It’s fascinating, but at the same time, it’s complex, especially when this data needs to be sifted through during an eDiscovery process.

Electronic Stored Information (ESI) for eDiscovery has taken on a new layer of complexity with multilingualism. The challenge? Discovering, processing, and reviewing this multilingual data accurately and efficiently. If this isn’t managed correctly, it could lead to misinterpretations, legal complications, and even lost cases.

In this article, we’ll navigate through the multilingual ESI maze. We’ll discuss its unique challenges, highlight the importance of language-specific reviewers, and suggest practical strategies to manage multilingual ESI effectively in eDiscovery.

Understanding Multilingual ESI Challenges

Multilingual ESI refers to all electronically stored information that’s not in English. This could include emails, contracts, internal memos, and more in different languages. With global businesses, multilingual ESI is quite standard, but it poses its own set of challenges:

  • Dialects and regional language variations can create confusion during the review process.
  • Language nuances, idioms, and cultural implications may not be correctly interpreted, leading to a loss of context.
  • The sheer volume of data can make manual reviews laborious and time-consuming.

And not just the language diversity but also the formats and platforms add to the complexity. The ESI could come from emails, social media, collaborative platforms, or databases, each with its structure and formatting. This multifaceted nature of ESI further complicates the eDiscovery process.

Importance of Onboarding Language-Specific Reviewers

Given these challenges, one effective way to handle multilingual ESI is to onboard language-specific reviewers. These experts are not just proficient in a language but are also familiar with that language’s cultural and contextual nuances.

Here’s why they’re crucial:

  • They ensure the accurate translation and interpretation of multilingual ESI.
  • They can decode language nuances, cultural idioms, and regional dialects, which non-native speakers or machine translations might miss.
  • They can help with the coding and review process by identifying key documents more effectively due to their language expertise.

However, onboarding language-specific reviewers isn’t without its difficulties. Finding qualified reviewers, managing costs, and coordinating with a multilingual team can be daunting. But, these challenges are surmountable with the right strategies and tools, which we’ll delve into further in this article.

The Role of Machine Translation in eDiscovery

While human expertise is critical in the cross-border eDiscovery process, there’s a technology piece of the puzzle that can’t be ignored — machine translation. It’s not just about converting words from one language to another. It’s about aiding the process to make it more efficient, speedy, and cost-effective.

However, machine translation isn’t flawless. Sure, it can quickly translate large volumes of data, but it can sometimes miss the context. Machine translations can struggle with idioms, industry-specific jargon, language-specific hidden grammar, and cultural nuances. This is where human oversight becomes crucial.

Human reviewers can work alongside machine translations, complementing their speed with their understanding of linguistic nuances. This combination can help maintain the accuracy of the translations while also ensuring the process is as swift and efficient as possible.

Best Practices for Handling Multilingual eDiscovery

So, what does effective multilingual data for the eDiscovery process look like? It’s a blend of human expertise, advanced translation technologies, and a well-planned workflow. Here are a few strategic points that managers should consider:

  • Ensure the team includes language-specific reviewers who can navigate through linguistic and cultural nuances.
  • Use machine translation technology to handle large volumes of data and speed up the review process.
  • Keep humans in the loop for quality checks and maintain the accuracy of machine translations.
  • Develop a sound workflow catering to multilingual eDiscovery, including systematic data collection, processing, review, and production procedures.

Remember, every eDiscovery request is unique. So, it’s essential to be flexible and ready to adapt your approach as needed.

Taking Charge of Multilingual ESI

In today’s global business environment, managing multilingual ESI is not an option; it’s necessary. With the right combination of language-specific reviewers and advanced translation technologies, the eDiscovery process can become less daunting and more efficient. Here are nine steps you can take to get in front of this issue:

  1. Identify your multilingual ESI needs: Assess the range of languages your organization deals with in its data and identify the potential complexities that could arise.
  2. Assemble a competent team: Hire or contract language-specific reviewers proficient in the languages you deal with. Ensure they are also familiar with legal terminologies and the cultural nuances of the languages they handle.
  3. Invest in technology: Utilize eDiscovery tools that offer machine translation capabilities. It will help you process large volumes of multilingual ESI quickly and efficiently.
  4. Establish a workflow: Define a clear, efficient workflow for handling multilingual ESI. It should include steps for ESI collection, processing, review, and production.
  5. Implement quality checks: Even with machine translations, it’s important to have human reviewers for quality control. Make this an integral part of your workflow.
  6. Stay updated: Keep abreast of technological advances and industry best practices for handling multilingual ESI. It could involve attending webinars, workshops, or conferences or regularly reading industry publications.
  7. Train your team: Ensure your team is trained on the latest eDiscovery tools and techniques. It will enable them to handle multilingual ESI more efficiently and accurately.
  8. Consult experts: If you’re dealing with a particularly complex case, don’t hesitate to consult experts or consider outsourcing to a specialist eDiscovery service provider.
  9. Review and improve: Continually assess your eDiscovery process. Look for areas of improvement, and don’t hesitate to refine your strategies as needed.

Remember, it’s not about tackling one language at a time but about embracing a comprehensive approach that can handle the diversity and volume of data in today’s business world. So take charge, equip yourself with the right tools and strategies, and make multilingual ESI work in your favor.



Kotone Shintomi
Kotone Shintomi has been an integral part of Knovos team since 2015 as a dedicated project manager. With a profound passion for eDiscovery technology, she strongly believes in harnessing its potential to enhance legal team's productivity and efficiency. Her expertise and insights have driven innovative solutions within Knovos.