Leading Australian law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, has launched its own OCR system as part of a broader strategy of selling legal tech solutions to its clients. The move builds on the recent partnership with Canadian legal AI company, Beagle.
In what is a relatively unusual move for a law firm, Corrs has built its own OCR (or Optical Character Recognition) technology for which it has gained a patent.
Named, JustOCR, it will take the form of a cloud-based OCR service that the firm claims is 50% faster than standard in-house OCR processing and 50% cheaper than existing OCR outsourcing options, in addition the system provides a quality score for each examined document to help users identify where the black spots in their document collections are.
The firm said in a statement that the JustOCR system is currently in closed beta, with Corrs soon to be accepting applications to trial the product from existing clients and non-clients alike.
While OCR is clearly a ‘computer vision’ application it is often a key component in legal AI document analysis work, such as Beagle can undertake. This is because for the natural language processing of the AI system to take place documents first need to be in the correct, digitised format.
In many cases large numbers of documents are in PDF, or there are only the original paper copies of contracts available. Naturally, all of these documents need to be converted into a uniform digital format that the AI technology can analyse. In which case one can see the OCR move as very much part of the partnership with Beagle.
Also, while the OCR development is interesting, perhaps of more importance is the fact that a law firm is now becoming a software developer in its own right, while developing partnerships with AI companies to sell AI and other services to its clients.
In effect one could see this as a law firm taking on the same role as some legal publishers that have embraced legal tech applications to provide additional services, i.e. leveraging legal data and knowledge via technology for the benefit of clients.
Corrs Partner James Whittaker said: ‘We are committed to helping our clients see around corners, and this is exactly what JustOCR does. 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.’
‘We are committed to open innovation and that means bringing to market our advancements to benefit not just our clients, but the legal profession more broadly,’ he added
Corrs Head of Innovation Graeme Grovum added with regard to the benefits of their new OCR technology: ‘[Our system’] is 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.’