Blog Post

Q&A: Van Mejia Discusses the Nuances of Foreign Language Review


Van, before we jump into the discussion around the issue of multilingual review, can you share a bit about your background?

I’ve been with FTI Technology as part of the Managed Document Review practice for more than 10 years. I’ve spent my review management career to date managing document reviews for complex and international litigations and investigations. This includes counseling clients and colleagues on review best practices, hiring and training teams of reviewers, developing workflows to optimize review on different review platforms, drafting review protocols and collaborating with e-discovery teams both in the U.S. and internationally. Prior to joining FTI Technology, I served as an attorney and review manager at two AmLaw 100 law firms and worked as a commercial litigation and intellectual property law attorney, actively litigating high profile multi-jurisdictional cases.

Which types of matters typically involve multiple languages? Is the frequency of these engagements increasing?

Most of the multilingual matters our clients face are large lawsuits, complex regulatory investigations or Second Requests and multi-jurisdictional corporate investigations. These matters are highly sensitive and usually involve tight deadlines that require the utmost efficiency and quality in document review. Quality control, legal expertise, technology proficiency and the ability to review hundreds of thousands of documents across multiple languages are all critical factors.

Given the confluence of increased globalization, disputes and regulatory enforcement, organizations are experiencing an uptick in cross-border legal and regulatory matters. This in turn increases the prevalence and volume of foreign language communications and files coming into scope in document reviews.

What are the common challenges that arise in multilingual review?

As I mentioned before, most of these matters are under a great deal of pressure and time-sensitivity. Beyond those inherent challenges, data volumes are typically very large, to the magnitude of hundreds of thousands of documents, of varying sources and formats. And of course, these large data populations may contain a number of different languages that the review team and the review technology must be equipped to interpret and analyze. The review workflow, in particular, can also get very complicated where data contains multiple foreign languages, and where certain documents contain mixed languages—for example a document might contain two or more foreign languages such as Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. Documents need to be efficiently routed to the correct foreign language team for 1L, QC, redactions and privilege logging and the workflow needs to be carefully crafted in a way that eliminates the risk of costly re-reviews and re-routing for each language.

Another challenge is presented where foreign language review teams for a large matter are spread across multiple locations around the globe. Tight, round the clock coordination is necessary to ensure that review instructions and feedback are shared and consistently applied at all review locations, review questions are systematically escalated to counsel and all teams are properly trained. This is where a seasoned review manager and a global review playbook are critical.

Multilingual reviews may also face regulatory restrictions that require review to be conducted in certain countries or by reviewers of specific nationalities. For example, in one government investigation involving documents spanning four European languages, our team was required by the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) to staff the review exclusively with U.S. citizens.

The human element, such as making sure team members feel valued and supported, is important to your philosophy and FTI Technology’s approach to working with foreign language reviewers. Can you elaborate on that?

It starts with recruitment—namely dedicated recruiters who have the compassion, skills and depth of experience to identify specialized talent and develop relationships with foreign language reviewers. At FTI Technology, recruitment is the initial critical phase in which a reviewer sees and interacts with our organization. We prioritize making candidates feel comfortable and that their skills are valued (including through competitive compensation) so the top talent wants to work with us in the near term and return to our team for future engagements.

It’s also important to maintain a professional, collegial, supportive and friendly work environment, and engage reviewers in exciting and challenging work that will allow them to grow their skills. We staff a lot of foreign language reviewers on matters using engaging methodologies like our Find Facts Fast and advanced analytics reviews using leading review platforms. These opportunities make the work more professionally fulfilling and help reviewers advance their own skills, which benefits our people as well as our clients, as it allows us to use the most advanced technology available to conduct review and find key facts quickly.

By maintaining a high standard for our recruiting practices, providing compelling work and managing teams with integrity and empathy, our firm has assembled a deep bench of experienced, dedicated reviewers across more than 30 languages.

So, recruitment and engaging workstreams are key differentiators for FTI Technology’s multilingual review services. What else is unique about the way we support clients with these types of matters?

Across FTI Consulting and our Technology segment, deep domain expertise is a strength. In our Managed Document Review practice and multilingual review services, we staff every matter with seasoned review managers experienced in the nuances of complex litigation and investigations. Review managers play an important role in ensuring foreign language reviewers are fully supported and set up for success. Because of our team’s expertise, we can also apply advanced analytics in novel ways. Our workflows increase document review speed and help reviewers move through large data sets faster than with linear review tools, resulting in an overall increase in document decisions per hour.

Onboarding and training are also key. We ensure our reviewers are fully integrated into our team and provided with training on the substance of the matter, the technology and the review methodology. We also make sure that review feedback is shared with the team on a regular basis as part of the training and learning process to help increase reviewer confidence, coding accuracy and overall review quality. I think our approach of detailed and ongoing training is unique among other managed review providers, and our teams are more successful for it.

In certain jurisdictions—such as Europe and Asia—there’s been a trend toward data localization to support compliance with data protection laws. How is FTI Technology addressing this?

Our global reach and local data privacy expertise are key in facilitating multilingual reviews for our clients. Our technical teams understand data privacy and other regulatory restrictions across all major jurisdictions and can be deployed virtually or in-person. Our technical teams then work very closely with the client and our review experts to prepare and execute a review workflow that is compliant with local laws and regulations.

And how does FTI Technology maintain quality control across a document review involving numerous languages and teams spread across multiple countries?

We have a consistent process and methodology, which we refer to as our global playbook. So, whether a team is in the U.S., Europe, Asia or spread remotely across numerous regions, we have the same processes, delivery standards and quality control methodology. We are continuously optimizing this as the tools and our expertise evolve, to ensure our people and our clients are set up for the best possible outcomes.

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The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.