Law firm tech development: Corrs patents own OCR analysis technology

As law firms increasingly foray into the world of tech development, last week (21 April) leading Australia law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth announced it has patented a new optical character recognition (OCR) analysis technology developed by its innovation and development team.

The technology, which has received a patent from IP Australia, identifies documents with low quality searchable text and will be used as part of a new service being launched by Corrs called JustOCR.

JustOCR is a cloud-based OCR service that claims to be 50% faster than standard in-house OCR processing and 50% cheaper than existing OCR outsourcing options, in addition to offering the newly-patented analysis technology at no additional cost.

Standard OCR tools convert images of text into machine-encoded, searchable text. JustOCR performs this same function but also includes OCR analysis, which provides a quality score for each document to help users identify where the black spots in their document collections are.

“We are committed to helping our clients see around corners, and this is exactly what JustOCR does. OCR technology was a huge leap forward for the legal industry, particularly in litigation cases. Our new OCR analysis feature is the next step up, providing users with a significant strategic advantage in ascertaining where the gaps are in their own and other parties’ document collections,” said Corrs partner James Whittaker (pictured).

Corrs head of innovation, Graeme Grovum added: “It is also a much more efficient option for users. Existing OCR services typically require a choice of speed versus cost.  It can usually take a week or more to recognise 1.5 million pages and cost clients anywhere between 2 to 4 cents per page.  While that might not seem like much, the cost of outsourced OCR is prohibitive for large matters with millions of pages.  JustOCR is able to OCR and analyse 1.5 million documents in just a few hours and at about half the price of the industry’s lowest rates.”

JustOCR was developed by Corrs’ innovation and development team and will be available to the open market in Australia and internationally, as well as to Corrs clients.  It is the latest example of law firms developing their own tech solutions where they see a gap in the market. In March, Linklaters announced that it has collaborated to launch a homegrown AI-backed data analysis and extraction tool called Nakhoda in conjunction with London tech startup Eigen Technologies. The magic circle firm last year launched Verifi, a home-grown program that can sift through 14 UK and European regulatory registers to check client names for banks.

Regulatory changes have sparked a number of new law firm products and in 2016, Allen & Overy built on its successful online derivatives and data management platform aosphere to launch MarginMatrix, a new digital derivatives compliance system delivered in conjunction with Deloitte’s managed services team.

Pinsent Masons was in 2016 ranked among the top five most innovative in Europe by the FT for a range of work, including the development of ‘Blended Products’, a solution designed by the firm to enable its insurance clients to offer customers a compelling alternative to annuities; and Term Frame, an intelligent project management system. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is currently hiring developers to join its low-cost Manchester base, which is also acting as an incubator for new technology.

JustOCR is one of a number of recent innovations launched by Corrs, including its recent launch of Beagle Asia Pacific, a joint venture with Canadian AI contract review specialists Beagle, providing companies with practical and accessible artificial intelligence technology; and CAEL Verify, a collaborative project with Elevate Services to streamline the process of verifying document statements prior to market release.

JustOCR is currently in closed beta, with Corrs soon to accept applications to trial the product from existing clients and non-clients alike.