(e)Discovering OCR

By Joe Budelli posted 11-10-2011 16:13


I’d like to again introduce my colleague, Scott Thompson, senior product marketing manager at ABBYY USA, to the AIIM Community Blog to discuss OCR and capture use in the legal industry.

Imagine you are a lawyer in the middle of a trial and you have over 100,000 documents, electronic and hard copies, come to you from the opposing side for discovery. The mix of PDFs, Tiffs, Word files, paper documents, scanned images and more are daunting to say the least. However, something needs to be done because the key to winning the case could be locked inside.

Does this sound farfetched? Well, the large number of documents may be surprising, but it actually happens more often than you would think.

Today, legal teams spend countless hours scouring the pages, taking down written notes on their findings, and then working on some classification/filing system in hopes they can find the evidence again. Not only is processing this amount of paperwork time-consuming, keeping the team from developing legal strategies, but it is often riddled with errors.

So how can OCR help? There are two primary areas that we will explore: conversion and search.


Law firms need to efficiently handle the high volume of incoming documents for discovery demands. OCR helps lawyers and firms quickly and easily automate the conversion of documents into digital files, enabling data to be easily accessed and securely stored.  OCR can quickly and accurately convert any paper or image-based documents into editable electronic formats. Not only does this save time, cut costs and increase productivity, but it enhances case preparation as well as makes it possible to meet e-Discovery demands more quickly. With accurate conversion, lawyers can effortlessly create searchable archives and repositories, and easily integrate into major electronic document and record management systems.


At law firms, the management of documents, depositions, filings, and court proceedings leaves no room for error. To ensure that documents are managed efficiently and without error, employees’ efforts need to be applied as productively as possible. Rather than dozens of legal assistants reading case files for hours to look for content, a single person can accomplish the same amount of work in a short period of time with OCR technology. OCR makes the files text-searchable, so that the content from the documents is available in digital, searchable form with just a single click.

Let’s revisit the previous scenario. Now, imagine that you are a lawyer that just received 100,000 documents for a case, and you have an OCR and document management system. While 100,000 documents may still seem daunting, your first course of action is to initiate the OCR process, letting it process while you work on another case. After the documents are processed and entered into your firm’s document management system, they can easily be searched to find just the evidence you are looking for to win the case. They can now also more easily be located and delivered to your counterparts during the discovery phase.

OCR and document management software saves legal professionals a great deal of time that would otherwise be spent reading through hundreds of pages of text in search of a single word or phrase. If you are a lawyer, have you used OCR for conversion and search purposes? Do you have any success stories on how the technology played a role in your casework?

#e-discovery #Capture #ScanningandCapture #legal #OCR #law