Joe Skalski, director of consulting services for engagement management at FRONTEO, discusses the firm’s unique e-discovery capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region, from its technological skills to the importance of having boots on the ground.

CCBJ: FRONTEO offers unique capabilities for handling discovery across foreign languages. Tell us about your approach to multilingual discovery.

Joe Skalski: Let’s break it down into three distinct areas. First, FRONTEO has a strong presence in the United States and Asia-Pacific – Taiwan, Korea and Japan, specifically. Our teams are in constant communication to ensure that we can provide exceptional service delivery regardless of where our clients are located. Due to our cross-border locations, we have intimate familiarity with data privacy laws as well as the norms and customs around handling client data in different countries.

Second, via our proprietary software, we can handle the complex character code sets for Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK) languages that many of our competitors struggle with. Without the proper processing capabilities, documents with CJK characters can end up being mistaken for one that’s essentially corrupted, when in fact it’s valid content that’s been rendered useless during processing. If these documents get categorized as having a technical issue or don’t end up being properly reviewed, it can have a catastrophic impact on a matter.

Third, our approach to using artificial intelligence in the discovery space is cutting edge. Document review has almost always consumed the lion’s share of litigation budgets, and frankly it’s the main reason these budgets are often exceeded. Technology is critical to the proper management of the budget, and resolving the character complexity in Asian languages can greatly reduce the document review volume and provide the proper focus where it belongs.

What are some common mistakes that in-house teams make when handling a cross-border matter?

The biggest mistake is not knowing the local data and privacy laws. There are very specific guidelines around each country, and not knowing them can have severe implications in the event of a mishap. Corporate officers and others can be held accountable far beyond simple fines, including potential jail time.

How are AI and other technological advances transforming discovery?

AI is positioned to reduce some of the normal human inconsistencies you see in document reviews. And in doing so, a natural byproduct is to drive down the cost for review, and this allows clients to more accurately manage their litigation spend, which is often unexpectedly high and can be fairly crippling to an organization. It also allows companies to be more proactive with their data, as opposed to just being reactive when a legal incident occurs. For example, just a few years ago, companies could be completely blindsided by emails that employees generated, which is particularly challenging in the case of fraud or malfeasance. But today we’re seeing AI alert the chief legal officer in near real time when an employee generates an email that may be the precursor to something questionable or illegal.

What are the advantages of having an international client services team?

There are close to 40 time zones in the world, so properly managing expectations for global clients is extremely difficult. Companies operate all over the world and in so many different locations, and FRONTEO can give our clients peace of mind. They can reach a knowledgeable person at any hour of the day. Some providers claim to have international client service delivery teams, but they really just have employees who are essentially working the graveyard shift who may not understand the local customs. The truth is, only a true international team can properly address these complicated issues.