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Understanding the Approach to E-Discovery in the APAC Region

By Ari Kaplan, Yongmin Cho & Angie Cho


Ari Kaplan speaks with co-founders Yongmin Cho (B), the CEO, and Angie Cho (T), a regional director, for Intellectual Data, an e-discovery provider based in Seoul, Korea, supporting APAC-based conglomerates, among other global companies.

Ari Kaplan

Yongmin, tell us about your background and why you founded Intellectual Data.


Yongmin Cho

I have a background in Korea and completed my MBA in the United States. I have experience working in startups in Silicon Valley and also at large corporations like Samsung Electronics. After returning to Korea, I worked as the CEO of the Korean branch of an Asia-based e-discovery company for over 10 years, using the knowledge and experience gained from my previous roles.


Angie Cho

The founding members of Intellectual Data have worked in the e-discovery industry for over 10 years. Over the past decade, we have witnessed the rapidly changing and significant procedurals or technological changes in the e-discovery market. We have noticed that the demand for e-discovery in Asia has not been as high as in the US, and so the Asia market has not kept up with the technological trends as well as organizations in the US. Despite the many differences between Asia-based companies and US companies, we felt that customized technologies and support were not well-established in Asia. Therefore, as a team with rich experiences in cross-border litigation for APAC companies, we founded Intellectual Data in 2019.

Ari Kaplan

How is e-discovery for Asia-based companies different from those based in the United States?


Angie Cho

In many Asian countries, the legal system is based on civil law, so there is often little to no adoption of the e-discovery system based on common law in the United States, or it is only minimally reflected. In Japan, for example, the e-discovery system is only minimally reflected, and in countries like Korea and Taiwan, there is no e-discovery system like that of the United States. In order to perform effective e-discovery, especially in compliance with the strong e-discovery system in the United States, it is vital for companies to first accept the system, and guide and educate employees to ensure that there is no spoliation and that proper procedures are followed.


Asian companies are also unique and each country has different characteristics and cultures. In particular, large Korean companies, such as Samsung, LG, and Hyundai, often develop or customize their internal business processes and security solutions themselves. It is, therefore, important to create customized processes that can be compatible with U.S. e-discovery platforms like Relativity or Reveal, based on the solutions that each company is using. APAC e-discovery goes beyond translation and is not just a language issue. It requires experience and know-how to understand the environment of the country in which the corporate customers reside and to address them accordingly.


Ari Kaplan

What are the most common e-discovery challenges that Korean or Asian companies generally are facing today?


Angie Cho

There are two main challenges. First, there is a lack of experience with and knowledge of e-discovery procedures among companies that are respondents to a lawsuit, which can lead to procedural errors. Second, companies and government agencies in most countries have a heightened sensitivity to data security.


In Asian countries where there is no e-discovery system, inexperienced e-discovery responses are a recurring risk factor. Large corporations in the United States, which regularly face litigation, tend to have well-established protocols for responding to e-discovery requests. Smaller companies, especially those based in Asia, which have little experience with litigation in the United States, however, have a limited understanding of e-discovery, which can lead to procedural errors and even sanctions. To provide comprehensive e-discovery services, we thoroughly investigate each company's environment, provide detailed guidance on the precautions practitioners need to take based on proprietary checklists, and confirm that they implement them.


In addition, as the focus on data security expands, there are additional data management procedures that need to be followed before submitting discovery to a US court, such as seeking approval from government agencies to transfer data to a vendor or a US -based law firm. For instance, China's State Secrets Law and Korea's National Core Technology regulations prevent data from being exported and impose sanctions that prevent foreign nationals from accessing data until approved by the government. Taiwan also regulates the security associated with handling high-tech data related to litigation. To overcome these challenges, the capabilities of local professionals performing e-discovery and their ability to navigate court deadlines promptly are critical.


Ari Kaplan

What types of e-discovery disputes does your team help global companies address?


Angie Cho

Our team supports the cross-border legal disputes that many global corporations in Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and other countries face in the United States, including e-discovery for ITC and DOJ investigations, PTAB interferences, and international arbitrations under IBA rules.


As a reflection of our global reach, we have opened data centers in the United States and expanded our US operations to respond to e-discovery in large and small domestic cases outside of Asia.


Ari Kaplan

Yongmin, you served as the CEO of Fronteo Korea. How did that experience affect your approach and leadership style?


Yongmin Cho

I was the CEO of Fronteo Korea from 2011 to 2019, starting with two employees in Korea. During that period, few professionals knew about e-discovery and we helped educate the Korean market, securing large-scale cases in the process, including Samsung v. Apple. I also learned that the e-discovery market is less Asia-centric and is more focused on US-based matters. This inspired me to consider ways to provide Asia-friendly litigation support services to businesses in the region and I launched Intellectual Data to offer improvements and progress.


Ari Kaplan

How is artificial intelligence affecting e-discovery and how do you leverage AI to support your clients?


Angie Cho

The cross-border cases we support typically involve large-scale litigation, requiring the timely analysis and review of terabytes of data. Using AI to support those efforts has been a longstanding practice in APAC and we believe it is important to be agile in adopting and deploying new technologies.


Ari Kaplan

How do you see e-discovery in the region evolving?


Yongmin Cho

While the e-discovery market in the United States is considered to be mature and highly competitive, e-discovery in the APAC region is evolving, so each vendor should have specific strengths and unique features that distinguish its approach. We are leveraging our strengths in APAC e-discovery to fuel our growth in the United States.


Angie Cho

E-discovery in Asia is increasing due to the rise in disputes involving Asian companies in the United States and the expansion of litigation to mid-sized or smaller companies. In addition, the number of companies initiating lawsuits for the first time in the United States is rising as well, which is fueling responsive filings overseas. There is also more investment by Asian companies in the US, which is prompting more litigation by their domestic subsidiaries.

 

About the Author

Ari Kaplan (http://www.AriKaplanAdvisors.com) regularly interviews leaders in the legal industry and in the broader professional services community to share perspective, highlight transformative change, and introduce new technology at http://www.ReinventingProfessionals.com and his series at Legal Business World


Listen to his conversation with Yongmin Cho and Angie Cho


#AriKaplan #YongminCho #AngieCho #ediscovery #APAC #legaldata #legaltech #regtech #AI #legalservices


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