Australia: Why open innovation is the way forward for the legal industry
Last Updated: 27 June 2017


Over the last 10 years, Corrs has been able to evolve and refine its delivery of legal services by embracing an open innovation approach to our technological advancements. We strongly believe this strategy is the way forward, not just for us as a firm, but for the legal industry as a whole.

In a nutshell, open innovation means that we regularly partner with third parties to deliver better outcomes than either of us are capable of on our own, and seek to open up our advancements to the wider market. Taking this approach benefits not just our clients, but the legal profession (and at times other sectors) more broadly.

Below, we take you through exactly what led us to adopt a strategy of open innovation – and how we've set about putting it in motion.


Phase 1: Passive Consumers to Developers

Over a decade ago, Corrs found itself in the same position that many businesses find themselves in, even today: stuck being a passive consumer of technology. In short, we found that the products created for our use by technology vendors did not align with our requirements as well as we needed them to. To address this, we began developing custom applications that augmented the vendor applications we were using.

Taking this step was very successful for us and, after a number of years spent addressing our internal issues this way, we had a lightbulb moment: 'Surely we aren't alone in experiencing these problems? Others must be too.' This led us to the next phase of our open innovation evolution...

Phase 2: Developers to Vendors

At this point, we decided to start commercialising our innovations and opening them up to the wider market so others could benefit from what we'd created – in other words, we became vendors.

By way of an example, an early foray into the vendor market was with our award-winning iPad application for mobile document review, CaseFolio. Originally designed for use by Corrs lawyers in courts, mediations, arbitrations and conferences, we quickly realised that CaseFolio could solve the problem of how to provide document bundles for others too, and so chose to release it to the general market via the iTunes app store.

Phase 3: Vendors to Partners

The most recent phase of our open innovation evolution was moving from being vendors to entering partnerships. We realised that by partnering with other industry participants and third parties when it came to our technologies, we could produce better outcomes than either of us could on our own.

Once these partnerships started delivering outcomes that benefitted our clients, our firm and the wider legal industry, our open innovation approach was truly born.


In practical terms, our open innovation approach traverses two paths: building platform partnerships and building product partnerships.

Path 1: Platform Partnerships

We've found that by partnering with platform providers instead of trying to compete with existing vendors, we gain the benefit of their expertise without facing the expense of upskilling in an area outside our domain. Some of the platform partnerships we have entered into include:

  • HighQ and Corrs Collaborate
  • One of the leading corporate extranet and collaboration platforms serving the legal and financial markets, HighQ offers integrations and developer tools that allow its products to be significantly customised.

    Our Client Technology Solutions team has been using HighQ (or Corrs Collaborate as we've badged it) as a platform on which to create applications that deal with specific issues identified by our clients. By overlaying the standard HighQ platform with custom data visualisation, mapping, data aggregation and document automation features, we are now able to deliver our own applications to clients that increase efficiency and strip away complexity (these include applications such as SCOUT and CorrsEdge)

  • Our migration to Amazon Web Services
  • In 2015, our Legal Technology Solutions team concluded a three year process of investigation, prototyping and testing, and migrated our litigation review platforms, data storage and processing databases into Amazon Web Services (AWS).

    Shifting our systems to AWS has meant that we can continue to deliver the services our clients require at a dramatically lower cost than we would face if we continued with legacy systems. However, it also opened our eyes to the possibilities that exist within an environment of 'limitless' computational power. Moving to AWS meant we could now ask 'what's next'?

To date, 'what's next' has been the development of a number of applications that address the high costs of data handling traditionally associated with litigation. The first of these, JustOCR, has recently been launched to the general market.

Path 2: Product Partnerships

The second path of our open innovation strategy is product partnerships. We have a healthy and growing group of industry contacts that we are exploring partnerships with, and each of these relationships starts from the premise of co-creation. By each of us contributing the domain expertise we are able to, we can together create a product that neither of us would be capable of creating individually.

Two recently commercialised examples of our product partner strategy are Elevate Services' Cael Verify, and Beagle Asia Pacific, our joint venture with Canadian technology start-up Beagle. The success of our model with these early ventures has led to new partnering opportunities with a handful of great new companies. We are excited to see where these opportunities lead.

At Corrs, we're constantly evaluating market opportunities, technological advancements and partnerships that improve efficiency, add value and enhance client experience. The value that our open innovation strategy is delivering to this process, and to our clients, our firm and the legal industry as a whole, is clear. We'll continue to embrace it for many years to come.

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