Skip to content
what is ocr - Copy of Legal Best Practices_Header
6 min read

What is OCR and Why Do Legal Teams Need It?

Lawyers deal with lots of jargon and acronyms, but one your legal team absolutely should add to their lexicon is OCR, which stands for optical character recognition. OCR is the critical legal technology you didn't know you needed.

OCR is, simply put, technology that can read text in images. Using OCR, software can convert scans, faxes, or photographs of documents into regular, searchable text files. What once was a snapshot of a contract taken on a blurry smartphone camera can become a conventional Microsoft Word document, ready for fresh redlines.

Every legal team needs an OCR tool so that scanned or faxed agreements (like those your firm signed 10 or 20 years ago) can be brought into modern document management and analysis solutions. Choosing the right OCR solution for your legal staff is a more critical decision than you might expect.

OCR has been widely available for over two decades and the technology has advanced greatly in that time. Still, legal teams need to be very particular about the quality and features of the OCR systems they employ, because the accuracy of language is critical when it comes to legal documents.

6 tips for smoother contract workflows

What Should I Use to Convert PDF Contracts?

Freeware OCR solutions like SimpleOCR and FreeOCR are often bundled with Microsoft Windows PCs, and major document management solutions like Adobe Document Cloud and Google Drive have built-in OCR capabilities. These are fine for consumer or even everyday business usage, but they often fall short for legal teams.

These solutions can struggle dealing with complex or low-quality images, converting a blurry letter M into a pair of Ns, failing to recognize vertical columns of text on the same page, or misinterpreting background images, notary stamps or watermarks as part of the text on the page. Given all the fancy ways that tools like Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat can allow you to lay out a document, even a brand-name OCR tool can easily struggle to understand where text begins and ends. That's unacceptable when it comes to contracts.

Specialty solutions like Kofax OmniPage, Abbyy Finereader, and Rossum Data Capture offer more sophisticated functionality, but don't natively integrate with a lot of cloud-based or legal-centric software. These tools are built for different industries and use cases, not for lawyers and legal teams. In using them, you have to trade document fidelity for easy management and analysis, which is just shifting manual work to a different part of your workflow.

Legal teams need an advanced, high-fidelity OCR tool that seamlessly connects to their legal document storage, management, and analysis solutions so that they can get scanned, photographed or e-faxed documents processed and ready for redlines as soon as possible.

How is LinkSquares OCR different? 

The truth about OCR may surprise you. LinkSquares has built the OCR solution that in-house legal teams need. Using cutting-edge artificial intelligence trained on thousands of legal documents, the built-in LinkSquares OCR engine automatically converts images into high-quality text that software and humans alike can read, edit, analyze and organize. Any multifunction printer/scanner or smartphone camera can feed your legal documents to the LinkSquares cloud, where AI will help you parse, monitor and manage those contracts and agreements at the speed and scale of software.

If you're ready to unlock the information hidden in scans, faxes and photographs of your legacy legal agreements -- and want to get the best legal-centric OCR solution available -- contact LinkSquares today.