It is not a new question, and historically there have been a variety of answers. In my experience the two most common approaches have been: (1) to hire reviewers who are fluent in the language of the documents to conduct the necessary responsiveness/privilege review; or (2) to have the documents translated into English and then conduct the review in English.
Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages but, thanks to technological advances that the legal industry is helping to drive, the latter approach is poised to become the new standard for large scale litigation and investigations. The biggest disadvantages of native review include: (a) the logistics and expense of finding and hiring reviewers fluent in the native language; and (b) after identifying the responsive documents, you still will need to translate those for case team members or others who need to read them but are not multilingual. Conversely, the biggest disadvantages with translation prior to review have been the expense (indeed, anything beyond machine translation is usually cost-prohibitive for large document collections), the logistics, and the lack of accuracy of machine translation.
Technological advances have gone a long way to mitigate the issues with the “translate first” approach. In particular, the quality of machine translation keeps improving, to the point that the best systems are now plenty good enough to make responsiveness decisions with regard to the vast majority of documents in any collection. Now Reed Smith’s technology subsidiary, Gravity Stack, in partnership with legal translation leader Lionbridge, has developed an automated translation system that works seamlessly in Relativity and can also be used in conjunction with other leading e-discovery technology. It can translate large volumes of documents in short time periods and at a fraction of the cost of human translation—or the cost of paying the up-charge for native language review.
Try it for your next discovery project!