Why do solicitors need digital dictation?

By Martyn Ross, Business Development Director & Trustee Director, Voice Technologies

Posted on June 02, 2021

Our experience of over 10 years working with legal firms in the UK shows that solicitors who use digital dictation in their day-to day-work improve their efficiency and save time on notes and correspondence by an average of 40%. How do they achieve that?

Legal firms generate a large quantity of type correspondence on a daily basis, however a surprising proportion of the profession still uses tapes for recording and transcription. Tapes are inherently problematic – they take up space, often result in poor quality recordings, and need to be transported which leads to delays and makes them vulnerable to being lost.

Many solicitors turn to the seemingly convenient alternative of their smartphone to record voice memos. This too has its issues – a lack of in-built security and the inconvenience of switching between voice recording and other apps to refer to documents being the main constraints.

Most significantly, both methods frequently lead to inaccuracies which take time to rectify or, if they go unnoticed, can lead to errors that are potentially costly in terms of time, money and reputation.

Convert your speech to text

Fortunately, the solution already exists and is used by 25,000 solicitors in the UK – cloud-based digital dictation coupled with voice recognition. One example is Philips SpeechLive which enables solicitors to record dictations, send files to the relevant typist and check and issue documents, all in one place.

Different firms might need a fully or partly digital solution so with SpeechLive, audio can be recorded directly in a web recorder or using a smartphone app, or existing recordings can be uploaded from a voice recorder. Editing can be carried out in the recorder app using voice commands.

There will always be some items of correspondence that are more urgent than others so there’s a priority setting to bump urgent recordings up the queue.

Solicitors frequently need to refer back to previous dictations which is easy to do as all dictations are stored in one place.

Cloud-based dictation

With those in the legal profession spending a good deal of time out of the office with clients or working remotely, the convenience of being able record and access recordings on the go is essential.

The ideal solution is fully cloud-based (no software required) which SpeechLive is – enabling solicitors to log in to their account, dictate and manage dictation files remotely using a smartphone app.

A key finding of firms who adopt SpeechLive are the time savings and resulting boost in productivity it brings, not only when recording dictations – speech is typically 7 times faster than typing – but also when managing them as they can be prioritised, edited and authorised directly from a smartphone helping reduce turnaround times from days to hours.

Less easy to quantify are the reputational benefits. All the firms we have installed systems for report increased client satisfaction at the reduction in correspondence turnaround times. They also experience an increased level of staff satisfaction – a significant benefit when you consider the costs of recruitment.

Affordable and accurate

Accuracy too has come a long way in the last few years – typically 95% – so you won’t find yourself spending a lot of time correcting your documents. Legal terms can be pre-loaded, regional accents no longer trip up the software and Artificial Intelligence (AI) learns your preferences to speed up the process even more. The Philips SpeechLive system allows you to add up to 4,500 words or phrases that are likely to be spoken, including company-specific terminology.

Safe and sound

Given the sensitivity of the data solicitors deal with, traditional dictation and transcription methods can leave a lot to be desired in terms of security. Digital solutions have big advantages over them as files are encrypted and automatically backed-up, ensuring that your data is secure and there’s no loss of sensitive information.

Making the change

Switching over to any new system can be one of those things that you put off for fear it’ll have hidden costs or technical issues, or simply because there never seems to be time. As with all new things, there’s a learning curve but it’s quick and the experienced team at Voice Technologies has successfully guided hundreds of users into the world of digital dictation. The most common reactions are ‘that was much simpler than I thought it would be’ and ‘why didn’t we do that sooner?’.

Cloud-based solutions like Philips SpeechLive are designed to work seamlessly with other IT systems but before any changes were made our team gets to know your current set up. We then advise on the best digital dictation and speech recognition technology for your needs and guide you through its introduction, providing training for all users to make sure you’re completely comfortable with your new system.

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