Lawyers’ professional use of mobile devices has been consistently strong since at least 2011. Ninety percent of lawyers use a smartphone for law-related tasks, with email ranking as the most popular activity. With near ubiquity of smartphones in our culture, that finding is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is that these lawyers may also be using their smartphones for dictating sensitive client information, without thinking about the potential security risks to them and their clients.
The problem is that smartphones were not designed for professional dictation. While convenient, in some cases the devices can create inefficiencies, leave client information vulnerable and may lead to inaccuracies in the resulting documentation, especially if the voice recording apps are not properly designed for fast-paced legal workflows.
A better alternative for document creation through dictation is to utilize a dedicated, secure, professional voice recorder that still allows the attorney to use a smartphone to review client or case data and other information, but does not interrupt their workflow or create risks. A dedicated recording device also helps the lawyer communicate more effectively with colleagues and staff, and offers storage and battery life benefits that smartphones typically cannot match.
Smartphones Convenient, But Lack Key Features
Clients may be located across the street, or across the world, and face-to-face meetings are an essential part of the legal profession. Staying mobile means lawyers require technology that allows them to be productive wherever and whenever they are traveling.
The benefits of being able to work from anywhere with a smartphone, however, are offset by small screens and inability to dictate while multitasking. For example, when lawyers are reviewing an email or PDF document, with some voice recording apps, they must switch back and forth between the email and the voice recorder app while dictating. Printing the documents, in many situations, is simply not an option.
Switching between apps, apart from being inefficient and irritating to the lawyer, also creates data accuracy risks. Attorneys must rely on their memory about the information they read in the email before switching to the recorder app. If the attorney doesn’t correctly remember what they read, then they must go back to correct it, hopefully before the client or another lawyer or judge sees it. If not, the error can result in wasted billing hours or, at worst, a lost client and damage to the firm’s reputation. A 2010 study even found that clerical errors were one of the top 15 most common reasons for a legal malpractice suit to be filed against an attorney.
Dedicated Recording Device Offers Efficiency
A dedicated professional recorder means lawyers never have to take their eyes off what they are reviewing, whether that is their smartphone, a paper document or a law book.
Furthermore, dedicated dictation devices offer data security and features that make dictation even more convenient and aligned with the law firm’s workflows than some smartphone recording apps. For example, professional dedicated recorders, unlike most smartphones, protect recordings with the highest level of encryption to date—256 bit—compliant with the AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). Files are encrypted in real-time, which means even if the recorder is lost or stolen and its memory card removed, the recordings would still be protected. Data confidentiality is further protected on professional dedicated recorders through a four-digit PIN code required to access files or play recordings.
Some mobile handheld recorders are designed with smartphone connectivity features so recordings can be securely transferred directly from the device to a cloud-based server where it can be accessed by a transcriptionist or administrative assistant. The lawyer does not need to open a separate application to attach and share recordings, further improving efficiency.
Sound, Memory And Battery Also Factors
Apart from the document creation benefits, many attorneys who dictate leverage dedicated voice recorders for creating memos, internal firm emails, task lists and sharing other information in a fraction of the time of typing. Professional dedicated recorders also offer superior recording quality, memory size and battery life.
Recording quality is crucial due to the high volume of documents attorneys create. The recordings need to be clear so the transcriptionist does not need to rewind frequently, impacting productivity and accuracy. The powerful microphones in dedicated professional recorders, however, do not diminish battery life. Devices can record for 50 hours before needing a recharge. With that battery life comes abundant memory. Professional dedicated recorders offer up to 32GB of memory just for audio files, which is the equivalent of 352 days of continuous recordings.
Smartphones are part of every professionals’ toolkit, but they are not necessarily the best tool for every job. Rather, a dedicated professional mobile voice recorder should be used in conjunction with a smartphone, tablet or laptop to ensure that information is captured accurately and efficiently to deliver prompt and quality client service.