Enabling Global Litigation
Based in New York, Jeff Schmidt works as a Business Development Director at Park IP Translations. Jeff has worked in the legal translations space for nearly nine years and is a specialist in developing language solutions for litigation activities. He thrives in a fast-paced environment where he can meet and connect with his clients, providing translation solutions for many complex global litigation cases.
In a recent interview, heprovides a glimpse into a “A Day in the Life of Jeff Schmidt.”
I know it’s a cliché, but I don’t have a typical day. What I will say is that I’m not a desk-jockey and I like to meet people to discuss professional objectives in a relaxed atmosphere. It is important to connect with people to know their challenges and help them identify solutions. Many of the language solutions we provide are for very complex and confidential legal projects, so it is important I demonstrate expertise and establish trust.
Once I arrive at our New York office, I collaborate with my Park IP colleagues to review objectives for the day and then my time is spent executing those objectives. From phone calls, setting up meetings, sending emails to meeting and liaising with new and existing clients.
I have a focus and expertise in litigation language services. One of the common challenges facing all of my clients in litigation is the fact that they often have rushed and fast-paced translation needs. This can be due to unscheduled e-discovery documents requiring fast translation through to our rectifying bad translations that have been carried out by agencies that don’t have the appropriate specialization.
Responsiveness is a huge component in the litigation sector. My clients need a response on a translation request within 5-10 minutes. As a result, this often makes for an unpredictable, busy and sometimes nutty day. Each day, I create an hourly schedule where I outline specific targets and define how to spend my time. This schedule often falls behind because projects come requiring immediate attention. My clients are global so that covers a 24 hour timeline. The day starts early and never really properly ends because work in this area is never a dull, unproductive working life!
One of the key challenges faced by many corporate counsels and law firms is the fact that decision making for translation is very fragmented and often made by legal, not translation experts. This can often result in many last-minute and expensive translation activities with loose specifications on time and quality. If a legal translation specialist, like Park IP, can become involved at the start of litigation by consulting with the case team from the outset, then we can plan and forecast translation requirements for the whole process. This spans from complaint through to trial and enables us to make sure the most appropriate solutions are executed, providing consistency, efficiency and cost effectiveness.
We can also use time and cost-saving activities like machine translation (MT) or “technology assisted translation” (TAT), where we train the MT engine at the beginning of the process to be case-specific and familiar with the litigation subject matter. TAT is a great automation tool to use in the e-discovery phase where there can be multiple documents in many languages. By conducting TAT initially, case teams can conduct first-pass review in English, identify which documents are relevant and these can then go on to be translated to higher levels of quality by qualified human translators.
As I mentioned before, the day can go on forever and it’s not unusual for me to be answering emails at 3 AM or 4 AM. Working in the legal languages sector is fascinating and I get to work with some exceptionally clever colleagues in the global legal sector. I get to see the real-life importance of understanding critical information and be part of the solution for overcoming the challenges of language barriers in a legal setting.
Interview by Louise Law, Welocalize Global Communications Manager