Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Fraudulent Foreign Language Reviewers

Or: The death of "Trust but Verify." Increasingly we are kyakka04/29/16
Regardless of the language, click monkeys ain't practicing l nonlinearjdmba05/21/16
I've done the Portuguese language circuit many times and thi alphadog1504/29/16
It's crazy to me that they can't do a five minute verbal tes perkinwarbeck04/29/16
I think the best way to deal with fraudulent reviewers is to tedandlisa12304/29/16
Why do you have such a hostile attitude? For your informatio alphadog1505/01/16
I sound hostile? You not only sound hostile, but entitled. tedandlisa12305/01/16
Does this work? I would think visa issues and timing would m jorgedeclaro05/01/16
Many of them maintain dual citizenship and hop back and fort tedandlisa12305/01/16
> If you want to talk about unfairness, what's really unfair kyakka05/04/16
To hell with the client and the agency, just leave it alone bigsal04/29/16
I disagree with pretty much all of this. > To hell with t kyakka05/04/16
This. I have done tons of FL projects, hope to do more, and wolfman04/29/16
Since languages (other than Spanish, which is pretty common) bittersweet04/29/16
I'm on an English review now (was taking time off to study b jmck210504/30/16
On a slightly related note, but as a counter example, last m onlineappblackhole05/10/16
Should have told him he was full of it. With all the fraud tedandlisa12305/10/16
Great advice. Honestly, I was so surprised and taken aback b onlineappblackhole05/10/16
Foreign review is generally in a region's major metros. The jmck210505/11/16
To the OP, I have seen some people who pretend to have Japan thgjd07/12/17
NYC and DC have Portuguese projects paying in the $60-70 ran wolfman05/11/16
Some thoughts: 1. I don't think it's fraudulent if you ar therealness05/21/16
You make some valid points. Not to mention, some review thgjd07/12/17

kyakka (Apr 29, 2016 - 3:11 am)

Or: The death of "Trust but Verify."

Increasingly we are seeing reviewers who have somehow manaegd to slip into foreign-language reviews that are clearly not capable of doing the work. There are some people who have figured out how to scam the tests, or somehow get in without testing (perhaps through some kind of resume head fake). You meet people mysteriously fluent in 7 languages, but on closer examination can't speak the only one you can verify. I've heard complaints about this from other reviewers for some years, but the pressures to lie are apparently becoming irresistible to many now, with German, Japanese, Portuguese, etc., rates having climbed sharply. There seems to be a population of BS artists who are betting on not getting caught.

On the staffing side, agencies are partly to blame, because they will tell partners they have teams "ready" or "standing by" - with some languages this is either BS they know to be BS, or it's wishful sales thinking. And it is generally the case that most staffers don't know that staffing some languages is different not in degree, but in kind. Unfortunately, staffer turnover is too high at most agencies for a body of experience to exist in staffing foreign language reviews, and when partners say "jump!" they only say, "how high?" If a partner says, "I need 20 attorneys starting Monday in my office," they apparently don't say, "That's not going to be possible, let's talk about this in more detail." And with a high-demand language, this would be the only responsible way to handle an unreasonable request.

Clearly, this is a multi-faceted problem that stems from a lack of talent: Firms don't have language-proficient Associates or Partners; Neither do Agencies; No one in the review room will speak up about a colleague who is clearly incompetent - QC is done, and the client is billed for extra work to cover up errors (assuming they're even found). None are the wiser ... perhaps? It is surprising, actually, that firms don't figure out how dangerous this is. Partners, Associates, etc., are hanging their entire case upon what reviewers represent to them a document means. (I have heard of career-damaging impacts from reliance on incompetent "foreign-language reviewers" - who knows how many cases have gone south after the reviewers have been billed out?)

Who is the "Least Cost Avoider"? I say it's the liar - but this is an unlikely source for a solution to this problem, unless they suddenly become proficient and the problem goes away.

But anyhow, those of you out there who are engaging in *aggressive OJT* that is in some cases clearly malpractice: What on earth are you thinking? Perhaps in future those of us who want to maintain a reputation for professionalism in our community will have to start calling people out? Some of us are, after all, subject to an affirmative obligation to report malpractice to our Bar Associations.

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nonlinearjdmba (May 21, 2016 - 2:52 pm)

Regardless of the language, click monkeys ain't practicing law.

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alphadog15 (Apr 29, 2016 - 7:27 am)

I've done the Portuguese language circuit many times and this problem is an old one. The most effective way to deal with the issue is to have a separate QC team right from the beginning who you know are highly fluent and keep them relatively isolated from other reviewers. We did that on one review and got rid of the fakers pretty fast, as they were making far too many mistakes.

Ultimately there should be a better process at the very beginning, perhaps not using the same freakin test with the same questions and answers or allowing people to take the test at home! Or perhaps a quick spoken examination. But that'll never happen, not with the current business models in place.

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perkinwarbeck (Apr 29, 2016 - 8:27 am)

It's crazy to me that they can't do a five minute verbal test.

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tedandlisa123 (Apr 29, 2016 - 8:52 am)

I think the best way to deal with fraudulent reviewers is to mind your business and let the people running the review worry about the QC process. Are you that annoying person constantly going around getting into everyone's business and criticizing management that they aren't running things properly? I don't really see what a speaking test would accomplish. I know people who speak flawlessly with an almost non-existent accent who far all intensive purposes are practically illiterate. In doc review, for the most part, you aren't attending meetings or doing anything important. You are essentially reading documents all day. For that, you need a large working passive vocabulary, which is what the ATLA tests pretty well. Not rocket science.

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alphadog15 (May 1, 2016 - 7:14 am)

Why do you have such a hostile attitude? For your information, "fraudulent" reviewers have the effect of pushing down the market rate. You have legit fluent speakers who know their worth and hold out for an adequate hourly rate. When the agencies and firms refuse to lower it, they start scraping the bottom of the barrel, lowering standards and accept some guy who's second language is Slovakian and who spent a month in Portugal and suddenly thinks he's fluent in Brazilian Portuguese.

Now I don't give a flying F what that does to the "quality" of the review overall, that's the firm and agency's problem. But I absolutely do care about the size of my paycheck.

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tedandlisa123 (May 1, 2016 - 10:17 am)

I sound hostile? You not only sound hostile, but entitled. What are Portuguese reviewers currently making? Over $70 an hour? Don't be surprised if many people don't empathize with the size of your meager paycheck or how unfairly the agencies and firms are treating you. The people who I do feel sorry for are the English reviewers who can hardly earn above $25 anymore because they have to compete with the machines and Patel. If you want to talk about unfairness, what's really unfair are the Europeans who get to pop over here and sit for the bar exam just after one year of sitting in an American scam- school. They don't have to bear the humongous cost of 3 years of an American JD, and get to fall back on their European social safety net once their $70+ project ends. Bottom line is no you are NOT entitled to a certain wage and your employer gets to decide who they want to hire to perform a certain task, not you.

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jorgedeclaro (May 1, 2016 - 1:57 pm)

Does this work? I would think visa issues and timing would make it difficult for Europeans to hop to the US for foreign language doc review projects.

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tedandlisa123 (May 1, 2016 - 4:05 pm)

Many of them maintain dual citizenship and hop back and forth as they see fit. Maybe when Donald Trump gets into office this is one of the things that he can take a look at.

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kyakka (May 4, 2016 - 6:22 pm)

> If you want to talk about unfairness, what's really unfair are the
> Europeans who get to pop over here and sit for the bar exam just after
> one year of sitting in an American scam- school. They don't have to
> bear the humongous cost of 3 years of an American JD, and get to fall
> back on their European social safety net once their $70+ project ends.

Except for the social safety net, you could have gone to the EU, taken a near tuition-less LLB degree at very low cost in English(!), then come back here and gotten an LLM the same way. (But no one thinks of this...)

> Bottom line is no you are NOT entitled to a certain wage and your
> employer gets to decide who they want to hire to perform a certain
> task, not you.

They can decide who they hire, but they can't control very well what they pay. Of course they could always just pay out lots more and lose money, but that's not a long-term benefit to anyone. BUT with foreign reviews there's often no pool of talent - no depth to the bench. If you're the only one on the bench, you can tell them to pound sand and they can't replace you. There are some terrible foreign-language reviewers who aren't fired or disciplined, because the firm can't afford to lose even one of them.

So, yes, if you're an obscure talent, you CAN tell them what you'll be paid and they can't do a thing about it except decided whether or not they're willing to pay that much.

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bigsal (Apr 29, 2016 - 9:04 am)

To hell with the client and the agency, just leave it alone and work your hours. Do you think they care about you? Why care about them?

Hey, guess what? Fixing someone's mistakes may prolong the project and get your dumb self more hours of employment.

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kyakka (May 4, 2016 - 6:25 pm)

I disagree with pretty much all of this.

> To hell with the client and the agency, just leave it alone and work
> your hours. Do you think they care about you? Why care about them?

They do care about me - because they can't find a replacement. And I want to work only for good agencies, so I pick and choose my agencies. Luckily it seems the best ones are generally the go-to's anyhow for the foreign-language projects.

> Hey, guess what? Fixing someone's mistakes may prolong the project
> and get your dumb self more hours of employment.

This attitude I find, frankly, unprofessional. Plus, this work is not very stimulating - why wouldn't you want to move on to a new matter for a change of pace? The breaks between projects are one of the best parts of doing the work!

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wolfman (Apr 29, 2016 - 9:14 am)

This. I have done tons of FL projects, hope to do more, and I don't care... unless the presence of these less-than-fluent scammers is somehow stopping me from getting work, of course. Does the OP have evidence of that?

As pointed out above, speaking is irrelevant. I also know people who can talk a good game but are nearly illiterate in English, not to mention the foreign language.

On a larger scale, as bigsal says, employers don't care about us. In fact, they are constantly playing games with hours, rates, and project tumelines to minimize cost. How about being told nearly daily that the project is ending, to get people to crank out docs and do longer hours, only to have it "extended" at the last moment?

The profession, on both the law school side and the firm side, is run by sociopaths without a shred of decency or solidarity who, in my humble opinion, would be marched out into the countryside and machine-gunned in any half-rational society, instead of being made law school deans and law firm partners. And you expect ME (who can't afford health insurance, other than Medicaid during the periods when I'm out of work and collecting unemployment) to police the profession? LOL

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bittersweet (Apr 29, 2016 - 4:36 pm)

Since languages (other than Spanish, which is pretty common) tend to pay double what general reviews do, of course there is incentive to review in foreign language. I wish my skills were sufficient.

But I do QC regularly on English docs and people have the same problem. You look at some and wonder how they found the building they are working in, much less passed a bar exam.

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jmck2105 (Apr 30, 2016 - 6:39 pm)

I'm on an English review now (was taking time off to study but... didn't like the gap) with some attorneys who've never done review before. I'm not even QC and I spend way too much time answering really stupid questions about the documents, or about Relativity, or just about how to operate a computer.

I'm hoping to be doing FL work next year or the year after, but I'm inclined to agree that incompetent reviewers is a problem all around, English or FL. And what's more, I'm inclined to say that it's up to the firm to develop a policy to fix the problem. I'm inclined to be helpful to people *within reason* as a general rule of thumb, especially for little things, but most of the time I just say "I'd go ask our team lead/litigation associate" if their question is about anything substantive. In my experience, the incompetent people don't want to ask for help because they want to slip under the radar. Just don't do their work for them, they'll make a ton of mistakes, and if the firm has a good policy in place their accuracy metrics should weed them out.

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onlineappblackhole (May 10, 2016 - 5:54 pm)

On a slightly related note, but as a counter example, last month I did several interviews for a Portuguese review. The second interview was with a Brasilian attorney working for the firm I was applying to review for. It was 30 minutes long and entirely in Portuguese, starting with the first words out of the guy's mouth. The job didn't seem too bad at all, and I was eager to find out the rate.

The rate was $25/hr and non-negotiable. English projects in my area (Phoenix) are around $40 (I recently spoke to a new grad who had zero experience and was getting $45). The review was in a warehouse 1.5-2 hours from my home (depending on traffic). Anyway, I declined the offer because it was simply too low to justify the effort and commute. Interestingly, the guy asked me what an acceptable rate would be (even after saying the $25 rate was non-negotiable). I stated $50+. He said "there's nowhere in America that pays $50 or above."

Needless to say, it was an interesting interaction. Portuguese is not a common language here at all, and according to the bar's "language survey," there are fewer than 15 licensed attorneys here who speak it.

Has anyone had a remotely similar experience? Which cities are people pulling in these $70 rates that I keep hearing about? Which agencies are people going through?

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tedandlisa123 (May 10, 2016 - 6:14 pm)

Should have told him he was full of it. With all the fraud coming out of Brazil, you could fly to NYC/DC and be earning $70+ tomorrow. As a foreign language reviewer, you should be asking the rate before wasting time and resources on pointless interviews. Time is money.

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onlineappblackhole (May 10, 2016 - 11:23 pm)

Great advice. Honestly, I was so surprised and taken aback by it that I didn't have much of a response. I mean, they were extremely diligent, and the process was so intensive that it felt more like I was getting interviewed for a full-time associate position. But the pay was a joke, and the location made it even worse.

Their ad gave their firm address as the place where the review would take place. It is almost within walking distance of me, so that's what attracted me to it. While we were interviewing, he told me the review would be at a different location, so I asked where and what the address was. While talking, I pulled it up on google street view and it appeared to be a warehouse in the middle of an industrial district, with a bunch of semi's lined up the street in front of it. I realize that street view isn't live, of course, but nonetheless is was definitely an additional surprise.

The NYC/DC prospects are very attractive. Have you by chance ever heard of any on the west coast?

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jmck2105 (May 11, 2016 - 4:04 pm)

Foreign review is generally in a region's major metros. The big 3 dominant cities for FL work are DC, NYC and LA.

Portuguese rates were around $70 last I checked.

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thgjd (Jul 12, 2017 - 3:20 am)

To the OP, I have seen some people who pretend to have Japanese fluency because it pays so well. For example, they can read Chinese, but miss the nuances of Japanese because they characters are used differently. That would be like me saying I can read French because I know my ABCs. So they get away with it for a short time, until QC starts. By that time, they have already made $100/hr for 3 or 4 weeks and they can now say they have FL review experience.

The ALTA test was the same for a very long time. I took it several times and the last time I did it, I finished in about 5 minutes with 100%. And it was a baffling read until somebody told me that it was a machine translation from English. I aced it the next try.

As far as wages, I've heard every silly excuse in the book. When I did review, I once got up and walked out when the agency started to say "cost-conscious client." The guy said, "Where are you going?" I replied that I had another interview and did not need to accept a rock bottom rate for a FL review where reviewers are in demand. Man, that felt good. The joys of going for an interview when you have options.

My advice for reviewers is to either start a practice and get some steady clients, or differentiate yourself by learning the platform really well. I'm not a huge fan of Relativity, but KCura has certifications you can get. The RCA can make you a project manager, or you can get a job at one of the big Relativity houses like LDiscovery or Epiq.

Good luck out there.

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wolfman (May 11, 2016 - 4:33 pm)

NYC and DC have Portuguese projects paying in the $60-70 range that I know of. Sign up for Posse List and so will you (you can choose the georgeaphical areas, cities, and languages you are interested in - I recommend a wide range). Sorry, no info on LA, but that s because I'm not signed up for any West Coast lists...

The person you spoke to is either extremely misinformed or a liar. I speak a language that is less in demand than Portuguese and the lowest I have ever made on an FL review was $46/hour on a long project (and people jumped or took sick time constantly to get higher paying gigs which were in the $55-60 range). Do not do foreign language work for peanuts.

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therealness (May 21, 2016 - 1:56 pm)

Some thoughts:

1. I don't think it's fraudulent if you are honest about your ability. For foreign document review all that is required is READING at an intermediate level. I have never been on a foreign language document review where speaking is required. You don't need A 50,000 word vocabulary to determine whether a document is responsive or not. And if you are upfront and say that you can only read, not speak, there's no fraud and document review agencies will likely hire you anyway. Not to mention that the Alta exam is more difficult than foreign language document review.

2. There is no doubt that a small minority of reviewers engage in foul play to get on reviews. There's English reviews that lie about their experience to get on reviews.

3. Just because the quality of work on some of these reviews aren't good does not mean that the person cannot read/speak the language. In India, the quality of review isn't good even though they read English. Some reviewers just don't care about the work so they do a terrible coding job. That true for English reviews as well; attorneys will just do a terrible job because they don't care about document review. Also, since foreign language reviewers are rare they know they won't be fired. And even if they are fired, they'll just find another job.

4. No one has an incentive to get rid of fraudulent reviewers. First, there's really no way to tell if they can't read the language or if they are just a bad reviewer. Second, since there are not enough foreign language reviewers, especially since many foreign language reviewers do more than one foreign language, agencies and firms have an incentive to hire marginally fluent people since they can be billed at a higher rate and fill the quota. Other reviewers don't have an incentive since they can't prove someone can't read a language, it ruins the snitch's reputation and they aren't necessarily going to get paid more. If anything, the project may go on longer in order to correct the mistakes.

5. It is easy to say you enjoy the breaks in between projects because you are doing foreign language review. If you were doing English at $25/hr, no OT and had to compete against 10 people for one position, you wouldn't feel the same.

Instead of getting upset, just enjoy your higher salary and don't worry about it. There's always people who lie to get on reviews (even English reviews) and do a terrible job. Until there's a greater supply of foreign language reviewers and better ways to test who's fluent,this problem will always exist.

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thgjd (Jul 12, 2017 - 3:27 am)

You make some valid points.

Not to mention, some review projects can get very political. The QC team can lie to the management who cannot read the language. "This guy keeps missing priv calls." I've seen people get fired like this, and it was all because of politics.

Don't forget that email is a very informal means of communication. Do not assume that the documents are written correctly. They can have mistakes and if you're not a native speaker of that language, it can throw you off.

If you're doing an Asian language review, you'll quickly find that many companies have internal jargon that would baffle even WWII code-breakers. On top of this, you have a review manager who only speaks English wondering why you're not doing 200 docs an hour like they do in English. And the FCPA review suddenly takes a twist and you've uncovered a mistress or some racist remarks in the emails. Don't let that throw you.

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