07 February 2020

Digitization of content piling pressure on legal operations, survey finds

Forty per cent of respondents expect digital content volumes to increase by third in two years

By Dr David Cowan

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New research has found that legal departments are under pressure from increased compliance challenges created by content digitization and regulatory overload.

Almost a third (31%) of 300 senior financial services executives surveyed by language translation services provider SDL listed meeting regulatory and compliance demands as one of the most common challenges they faced when creating and delivering content.

The Digital First Globalization Strategies Research Report found that that, on average, 285 legal documents - T&Cs and contracts - per year are created by in-house legal departments in the sector across multiple channels.

More than two thirds of the respondents (69%) stated they translated 70% or more of their legal documents produced annually. This did not include other pieces of content, such as product information and marketing materials, which are also often subject to legal review.

Content overload

The volume of global content is expected to rise by 31% in the next two years, according to 40% of the companies surveyed. This then multiplies, as it is translated into multiple languages, further taxing legal departments charged with ensuring local and federal regulatory compliance.

More than 40% of the content is expected to be translated within 24 hours, with the demand for fast turnaround times for legal content identified as higher than the average.

“Volumes of multilingual content can vary greatly, from tens of thousands of documents in litigation-related eDiscovery, to specialized monitoring of customer communications to ensure regulatory compliance, to smaller volumes of sensitive communications with global employees,” said Kirti Vashee, SDL’s senior director of product marketing strategy.

He added: “Multilingual issues are especially present in cross-border partnerships and business dealings.” 

Mounting legal challenges

The findings echo a report by consultants JWG - Ready for Digital Regulation?  - which was published last year. The research, undertaken by database supplier Mark Logic, outlined the details of 374 new legal challenges for compliance departments between now and 2021. 

The report noted compnies were not only struggling to cope with the sheer volume of new regulations, but also 'the enormous breadth in terms of activities, processes and functions which are governed by new rules'.

The regulation overload includes new updates on the FAST Act in the US, Brexit pressures in Europe and the 2018 MiFID II revisions.

According to the 2019 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Digital Economy Report, global internet protocol (IP) traffic, a proxy for data flows, grew from about 100 gigabytes (GB) per day in 1992 to more than 45,000 GB per second in 2017. By 2022, the figure is expected to stand at 150,700 GB per second.

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