Everyone wants the latest and greatest technology in both their professional and personal lives. The legal profession, however, has been notoriously slow to adopt new technology. For example, many attorneys rely on dictation for document creation, but many still use analog tape recorders or stationary dictation machines.
While these dated technologies may still be effective for some legal professionals, they pale in comparison to the efficiency that modern, electronic mobile technology offers our 18 attorneys at Tampa-based, Beytin, McLaughlin, McLaughlin, O’Hara, Bocchino & Bolin, P.A. They use dictation recorder apps on their smartphones to create notes, letters, summaries, and other documentation while in the office or traveling to meet with clients, which is often.
The dictation workflow software at the firm is integrated with speech recognition software. When attorneys send their recordings to their assistants, the software automatically transcribes the dictation, allowing assistants to just proofread and format the text instead of creating a full transcription, freeing up time to concentrate on other tasks.
A gradual implementation and testing process was crucial for successful adoption of this technology, which has been embraced by most of the attorneys at the firm. The results have been improved productivity and more efficient document creation, allowing attorneys more time to serve clients and grow the practice.
Exploring Mobile Technology
Our 15-year-old firm switched from using analog cassette tape recorders to digital recorders for dictation before the technology was widely accepted. As the handheld devices grew more complex, we received a recommendation that prompted us to test a dictation recorder app for iPhone in conjunction with dictation workflow software.
Attorneys quickly realized how far superior this voice technology was over our previous tools and workflow. Unlike some of the technologies we tried over the years, the dictation recorder app delivered immediate benefits, primarily the ease of use and offering the ability to record, edit and send dictation files from the same device attorneys use for phone calls and email.
As we learned from other technologies the firm has tried over the years, if it is difficult to use or slows our attorneys down, they won’t use it. Learning from these previous experiments, we tested the dictation recorder app with just one attorney. Based on his enthusiastic response and continued usage, we offered the app to the rest of the attorneys, who quickly began incorporating it into their workflow.
Key to supporting their workflow is the ability to create, access and update multiple recordings concurrently, since our attorneys work on as many as 100 to 120 cases at a time. This is possible with the dictation recorder app as attorneys, while traveling, can record, edit and transfer dictations directly from their iPhones to their assistant, who is automatically notified through the dictation workflow software when a file is sent to them. It also lets them know who sent the recording and for which case it pertains. Before the attorney returns to the office, the document can be created, reviewed and shared with the client, resulting in much faster document turnaround time.
Cost Savings and Efficiency
Some attorneys use speech recognition software to transcribe dictations. We have found the latest versions of the software we use, rapidly learns the speaker’s voice and is able to transcribe dictation in real-time. All the attorney has to do is speak directly into a dictation microphone connected to the PC or process an earlier recording created on the dictation recorder app.
Due to the speech recognition software and the dictation recorder app, document creation has been streamlined at Beytin, McLaughlin, McLaughlin, O’Hara, Bocchino & Bolin, P.A., and is helping the firm more easily comply with new electronic case document filing requirements in Florida. Costs have also been reduced because the firm no longer needs to outsource transcription.
Attorneys’ assistants are enjoying the more efficient dictation workflow that helps them easily visualize and manage the influx of recordings. Attorneys appreciate that the smartphone app affords them more time to serve the needs of their existing clients and meet with prospective clients to discuss new opportunities.
Any time we see a technology that might save time, we tend to be one of the first law firms to sample it and determine quickly if it will help our attorneys work more efficiently. Without a doubt, adopting electronic, mobile voice technology has far surpassed our expectations and has our attorneys appreciative they use the latest and greatest.