FRONTEO’s Peter Florian discusses the challenges of e-discovery in Asia – and how new advances in technology can help.
CCBJ: Let’s start with a little background about FRONTEO itself.
Peter Florian: Our expertise is e-discovery, from forensics through processing and managed review. In particular, we specialize in e-discovery in Asia, which requires a significant amount of nuance, both cultural and technical, to manage effectively. We also do a great deal of business with U.S.-based corporations, government agencies and law firms. Our significant differentiator versus U.S.-based competition is our position as the largest provider of e-discovery on the ground in Asia, as well cross-border projects with U.S. law firms involving Asian corporations, for which we are the acknowledged global expert.
What are some advancements or innovations in technology that are transforming the field of e-discovery?
Advancements in e-discovery technology continue to accelerate, especially with the significant progress that has been made recently in conceptual analytics and artificial intelligence. E-discovery platforms have become much more powerful as far as data-processing capabilities as data collection in the U.S. has become more normalized. In terms of CJK languages – Chinese, Japanese and Korean – there are specific processing challenges, because they utilize characters instead of letters. There are also more proprietary systems for communications and ERP systems in Asia, creating more challenges. FRONTEO offers a proprietary tool called Lit i View, which works effectively with both English-language letters and CJK characters.
There has also been a surge in usage of powerful analytical tools such as for technology-assisted review, or TAR, and now the next generation of analytics called continuous active learning, or CAL. These technologies are becoming accepted tools in government investigations and for our large corporate clients in the U.S. and Asia. FRONTEO has been at the forefront of advising clients on the advantages of utilizing these tools, and we have been able to save our clients significant time and money by using TAR and CAL to cull the number of documents that need to be reviewed.
We also are deploying cutting-edge technology in the actual review process. We have a proprietary offering that combines a workflow system plus analytical tools for the review process. Enabling attorneys to efficiently review documents for privilege or responsiveness is a big part of our business, and this technology combined with our expertise lets us manage and analyze reviewer productivity. As an example, we have developed a review management dashboard where clients can have up-to-the-minute metrics on review progress, which includes a heat map within Lit i View that provides a detailed snapshot of reviewer progress and productivity and enables course corrections as needed.
So throughout the various workflows that are involved in the discovery process, we offer both market-leading and proprietary tools to make e-discovery more efficient, which in the end will produce better and more accurate results while saving our end clients significant amounts of money. And this is all driven by the expertise of our people, from forensics experts and data technicians to project management and consulting services.
What are some of the investigative trends you are seeing in Asia?
Overall, investigative trends continue to be driven primarily by investigations by U.S. government entities and by corporate litigation including product liability, intellectual property and financial/commercial disputes. We see this trend continuing to be very strong based upon the current U.S. administration with the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission being very active in looking at international companies. Japan is the third-largest economy in the world, with manufacturing, pharmaceutical and financial companies that come into play in investigations originating in the U.S.
At FRONTEO, we have a deep U.S. presence both domestically and internationally, with boots on the ground in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and we are working in China as well.
What do companies that have to review and produce electronically stored information composed in CJK languages need to know? FRONTEO is a pioneer in this area. What unique solutions do you offer clients?
There are a few things to consider here. First, there’s the cultural aspect. In each country where we operate, FRONTEO employs Japanese, Korean and Chinese experts and support staff, which helps tremendously in effective communications for both strategy and execution. In some cases, we are working with corporations that may not be used to litigation, how it works, how much it will cost, etc. Having experts who are native to each culture is incredibly beneficial for helping clients understand how we are going execute effectively as well as achieve success throughout the process.
Another aspect is helping CJK clients understand how we’re going to organize a complex case that potentially includes multiple languages. In many cases, there will be English-language collection in the U.S., or in another part of the world, and understanding how we will coordinate with the Asian-language collection and review is important. This involves using translation services and having foreign-language reviewers on staff in those countries, locally, on the ground, including both bilingual and native-speaking reviewers.
In addition, there’s our technology that works effectively with Asian languages, as well as with other languages in the world, so that we can make sure that everything is done accurately and that we’re deploying the right resources at the right time.
We also have forensic collection experts on the ground throughout Asia, which is extremely helpful in targeting and identifying the correct data and collecting it in a way that is forensically sound, which is very important for beginning the e-discovery process itself.
Can you tell us more about how you help clients in the U.S. and outside of Asia generally?
We work with Asian-litigation experts at major U.S. and global law firms, working out of Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York and other major cities. These attorneys are experts in the laws in Asia and the nuances of each country vis-à-vis litigation that comes out of the U.S. For instance, a client may be wondering, “What are the protocols around collecting and potentially moving data from an Asian country to a platform in the U.S.?” The experts in Asia and in our U.S.-based consulting group can help clients navigate the collection process and assemble the data in such a way that their e-discovery requirements are fulfilled effectively according to the protocols in both Asia and the U.S.