Terabytes of Translation, Anyone? How E-Discovery Can Lead to the Mother Lode

When litigation involves massive amounts of digital data to sort through, law firms look to e-discovery to find the files that help make their cases. Borrowing the words of Shamus Flower, Senior Director of legal consulting firm Huron Legal: “Very big Company A sues very big Company B. As a part of that, Company A is entitled to files and information from Company B. That’s often a lot of information. [E-discovery is part of] that whole process of Company B turning over the relevant information.”

But when very big Company A needs information from very big Company C that is based in China, the data they are going to get will most probably be in Chinese. So when very big Company A needs to present Chinese language emails or reports as evidence, this is where language service and technology providers come in.

The global e-discovery Market is expected to reach $21 billion by 2022, according to Transparency Market Research. In this space, Gartner’s magic quadrant for e-discovery software, an assessment of 20 e-discovery software providers, lists industry leaders including KCura, FTI Technology, and Recommind. Challengers include Epiq Systems, Kroll Ontrack, and AccessData. These companies are either software providers, law firms, service providers, or a combination of these (e.g. law firm offering e-discovery software or e-discovery software offering paralegal services).

For language service providers looking to get a hold of some of these terabytes of potential work, there are a few options. Outright buy an e-discovery service provider like TransPerfect did with Digital Reef or CRG. Partner with an e-discovery tech vendor like ParkIP did when they announced a tie-up with Catalyst. Or, finally, develop a plug-in or connector like Linguistic Systems or Systran, both of which are now on KCura’s Relativity ecosystem. Despite these examples, however, it seems that so far only a handful of language service providers have recognized the opportunities presented by partnering up with e-discovery companies.

The action is not limited to the US, either. Kroll Ontrack launched a new Germany-based document review center, saying “the number of e-discovery projects that respondents in Germany had personally been involved with had increased every year over the past five years.” Kroll Ontrack itself runs a machine translation solution built into its e-discovery services.

With TransPerfect and Welocalize already active in e-discovery, the next major move will likely come from Lionbridge. Its recent $11 million acquisition in the legal translation space does not come with e-discovery technology capabilities.