Long a staple of the legal profession, dictation has entered the digital age and now is offering attorneys new mobility and efficiency. For many firms, the days of struggling to physically deliver cassette tapes to transcriptionists—without damaging or erasing valuable information—are gone forever. Digital recorders, tablet computers and smart phone applications are giving attorneys the power to dictate and download on-the-go.
The trend toward digital technology in the legal profession closely parallels the rise in technology elsewhere in modern life. Digital technology offers a broader degree of mobility, flexibility, and security than older analog technology offers. It starts with the wider array of hardware choices available. Some attorneys elect to use small, ergonomic digital recorders that are similar to analog recorders—only without the need to carry blank tapes. Others, however, completely eliminate the need to carry a separate piece of equipment by dictating on their iPhones, iPads, BlackBerry devices, and more.
The Philips Recorder for iPhone and iPad, for instance, is an application that turns the smartphone or tablet computer into a wireless digital dictation recorder. It works with the SpeechExec Enterprise suite to allow users to record, edit and send dictation files directly from the mobile device. Another option is SpeechExec for BlackBerry, Iphone or Android. The latest version of the software allows users to send files via email or through secure websites, attach files – such as images taken with the devices camera – to a dictation record, and receive a copy of the text document once transcription is complete. All of these features help to encourage continuous workflow, even if a lawyer is out of the office.
In addition to offering mobile dictation in any environment, digital technology also enables swift and secure file downloads—at any time, from anywhere. Encryption allows users to restrict file access, so dictation is secure no matter where it is recorded or transmitted. As a result, files can be sent directly to the appropriate assistant whether an attorney is in the office, visiting a client, in the courthouse, or on the move. The reason why is simple: rather than storing dictation on a cassette tape, Philips digital recorders and mobile apps store dictation in digital format on a small SD (or media) card. That makes downloads possible from the recorder, tablet computer or smart phone to a desktop computer, to the firm’s network, or to the Internet.
The Philips SpeechExec software also introduces workflow management options not possible with tapes. With this technology dictation can be uploaded directly onto transcriptionists’ computers, who can be notified automatically that a new job has arrived. Files can be prioritized, and the status of all pending jobs reviewed. Because files can be identified by author name, date, client name, or other data, transcriptionists easily can locate and track them without needing to rewind or fastforward tapes.
Furthermore, SpeechExec allows transcriptionists to use their PC as a transcription tool. Rather than alternate between analog equipment and their workstations, an onscreen “player” lets them move between tasks with fewer workflow interruptions. Clearer sound quality also improves productivity and turnaround time, while increasing accuracy.
The flexibility afforded by digital and mobile solutions allows connectivity to a degree undreamed of only a short while ago. Many manufacturers, in fact, are beginning to discontinue analog dictation recorders and tapes. Because digital technology takes advantage of mobile apps, is intuitive, and requires very little training, it is becoming the clear choice for a growing number of law firms. Philips’ enhancements in sound quality and accuracy gained through digital dictation are only the tip of the iceberg; these benefits quickly are supplemented by improvements in personal productivity and overall business operations. Mobile technology, for instance, is becoming increasingly important for attorneys who work outside the office but still require dictation efficiency. Together, digital and mobile technologies promise to bring new efficiencies to legal firms for years to come.
About the Author
Florian Schwiecker was an attorney and founding partner with a German law firm, then became CEO and shareholder of a successful European dictation solution provider that equipped over 5000 law firms. Since October 2008, Florian has been Director of Philips Speech Consulting North America.