Law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth has commercialised a document-carrying iPad app that was initially developed for its own use.
The firm has set up a commercial vehicle to market the app through Apple's iTunes in Australia, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.
Head of legal technology Brian Borskjaer told iTnews that although little modification was required to commercialise the app, much had been added over the year since it was developed.
The app is designed to enable lawyers to transport, review and annotate large amounts of case documents electronically wherever they happen to be - for example, in court or at client offices.
Though it was codenamed Corrs Briefcase, it has been commercialised under the brand 'Casefolio' by Corrs Enterprises.
Borskjaer said establishing an appropriate commercial vehicle to market the app proved challenging.
"Being a law firm we didn't quite have the right vehicle in place," he said. "It's one thing that took us a bit of time".
Borskjaer said that a large part of Corrs' motivation to commercialise the app came in the wake of an innovation award it won in May last year.
"I had quite a few law firms come to me and say this would be great if it actually was made available to everyone," he said.
"One piece of feedback we got was that these firms don't have the resources to go and develop this themselves, but they thought it would be great to have access to it.
"I think it would [also] be a great product for barristers to use, and clearly they haven't got access to this type of technology or [the capacity] to be able to develop this technology themselves.
"So we felt that it was the right thing to make it available to anyone."
Borskjaer said there was no expectation that the firm would turn a profit from the app's sale.
"From a price point of view, it's available here in Australia for $18.99 so it's not like this is going to be a great profit generator," he said.
"That's not the expectation around it.
"The whole app world is an unknown place when it comes to making profit out of it.
"Obviously it would be a great benefit to make some money out of it, but I think the main reason why we wanted to commercialise [the app] was really to say, 'We want the profession to actually have access' [to it]."
One potential advantage for Corrs is that the external customer base provides an additional source of feedback to drive improvements in the app, which benefits the firm's own user base.
Borskjaer said a number of improvements had been made to the app since it was first unveiled for internal use at Corrs in December 2011.
Recent updates to the app have focused on document search and annotation, including the ability to make voice annotations to PDFs.
Internal BYOD support
Much has changed for internal users of the app over the year it has been under trial.
Whereas the app was initially only available on a "complement" of corporate iPads that could be borrowed by staff, it can now be freely used on BYO devices.
Borskjaer indicated the locked-down model initially in place was "for security reasons". The model put lawyers in an "odd" situation of having to carry multiple iPads.
"It was a bit of a funny thing that you would have to carry two iPads with you, and that's where it didn't make sense," he said.
"Where we are today is we've changed the setup so [Corrs] lawyers can now download it onto their own iPad and then we've got the encryption [built in] as part of the [document] load process so that the documents are secure on the lawyers' iPads."
"I think we've got the right model now. I guess it's just the technology develops and we get to a better point today than we were [at] back then."