“A notable advantage was the ability for us all to be working aligned on the same system and pick up jobs centrally; making our office practices much more flexible and allowing prioritisation of important work.”
A strategic amalgamation of 5 local firms, Gillespie Gifford & Brown LLP is an established law firm with a service history dating back to the late 18th century. The origin of the practice stems from a merge in 1985 between Castle Douglas-based Lidderdale & Gillespie and Patrick Gifford & Co and then a later unite with Adam & AC Brown, Lennons and McGowans during the eighties and nineties.
Now operating from Castle Douglas, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright and Dalbeattie, the amalgamation has created a well-established business connection in each town and surrounding district resulting in the law firm being one of the largest south of the central belt.
The merging of 4 independent offices created an initial variance in working practices and clerical methods. With document production being a significant part of a typical law firm’s requisite, traditional dictation systems were used as standard to create typed documents from a fee-earner’s dictated audio file. In the case of Gillespie Gifford & Brown, 3 offices were still using analogue dictation; a traditional yet limiting practice of recording dictated memos and reports on mini-cassettes for handing over to in-house secretaries for transcribing on desktop playback machines.
This aged technique of producing typed correspondence had its difficulties; in order to give support to other offices during holiday periods, staff had to sometimes travel between offices to work or make deliveries. This was not ideal – staffing-wise – to lose valuable manpower as staff spent time travelling between these sites, nor was it ideal to send the audio cassettes by legal post.
Jane McQueen, Office Administrator for the firm, identified the need for clerical connectivity between the 4 sites to both smoothen the document production process and also maximise flexibility of secretarial services amongst the different locations. Her criteria was clear – the new system had to be configured between all sites and had to integrate with the existing office programs and applications.
Jane contacted Voice Technologies, the Paisley-based digital dictation and speech recognition developers, who provided a consultation on the multi-site requirements and recommended a series of digital portable recorders from Olympus – the DS-7000. This leading dictation device combined the portable autonomy of a recorder with uncompromised sound quality; the device is optimised for crystal-clear recording and also appoints each dictated file with profiling features for identification. Definable work-types, priority levels and even in-device encryption allowed the fee-earner an at-a-glance overview of the dictation urgency and type as well as assigning password protection to protect client confidentiality – a far cry from the relative anonymity of analogue tapes. With the dictated file recorded, the fee-earner could route the recording to the secretarial team for administrative handling with a click-of-a-button; channeling the file electronically via the office LAN or even email.
The firm’s secretarial team were also appointed a document processing application with which turned the dictated audio file into a format that allowed quick transcription. The Olympus AS-7000 provided clerical assistance with file identification (the fee-earner’s assigned urgency and privacy ratings) in a list-view interface for easy handling of new, pending and archived jobs and the connectivity of the software enabled the administration team to share pending tasks inter-departmentally to maximise staff resources – crucial at busy times.
Jane and the Gillespie Gifford & Brown team saw measurable benefits in the multi-site document processing solution from Voice Technologies, which allowed more efficient office practices and ultimately, a breakthrough in improving document turnaround periods and quickening response times to clients.