Managing time can be a challenge in the best of circumstances, and the changing dynamics of the legal profession in recent years only seems to be making matters worse.
While lawyers employ many strategies to deal with the time crunch, dictation is one of the most traditional—and for good reason. When used carefully, dictation allows lawyers to save time drafting simple documents, reduce lengthy meetings into useable transcripts, or simply to organize their thoughts as they jump from matter to matter through the course of a busy work week.
If you’re looking to get started with dictation in your practice, or are maybe looking to update your existing system, here are a few tips:
Making the Recording
If you plan to use dictation as a practice tool you’ll likely be recording your words for later transcription. To do that, you’ll need a decent quality digital voice recorder.
Here are some of the main features to consider when purchasing a professional digital recorder:
- Recording capacity. Most digital voice recorders today have built in storage capable of holding hundreds of hours of voice recordings. If you plan to make lengthy recordings, consider a model that supports removable storage cards so you can expand the capacity as needed.
- Recording format. Different devices offer different recording formats, including MP3, WAV, AAC, WMA, DSS, and more. If you plan to use special software for transcription you’ll need to make sure your recorder produces the recordings in an appropriate format.
- Size. This is yet another gadget to carry around, along with your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and other gear you may already carry. Look for something that isn’t too large, doesn’t require overly bulky charging or transfer cables, and preferably one that comes with a protective case so buttons aren’t being pressed while it’s in your bag.
- Editing/playback features. At the very least, you’ll want the ability to rewind and fast-forward through your recordings so you can listen back to your recording and re-record portions as necessary. Some of the higher end models will allow you to organize recordings into folders, set bookmarks to easily navigate the files, and lock the device to avoid accidentally recording over something important.
- Software. Most professional voice recorders are software-based. The software may be incredibly simple—just used to transfer the audio files from the device to your desktop—or it may be more elaborate, including organizational/archiving tools, editors, and transcription tools. Be sure the software that comes with the device is compatible with your computer, particularly if you’re a Mac user.
- Price. Professional recorders can be quite expensive. However you need to assess what specific features you need in order to work more effectively and efficiently, and see what model will be the best solution for you and you will be able to recoup the cost quite quickly through being able to work more productively.
The Philips range of professional dictation recorders offer the perfect solution to your dictation requirements. They are ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand with the controls readily accessible to make recording as easy as possible. You are able to insert, overwrite and delete seamlessly within a recording and can easily bookmark important points for later reference.
Transcribing the Recording
Of course, recording is only half the battle. To truly realize the time savings, you need a strategy for taking the recording and turning it into a usable document—whether that’s a letter, a draft of a legal document, or a transcription of a meeting.
There are two options when it comes to transcription. You can either purchase software such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which will automatically transcribe your audio dictation files into text documents (however this software will not transcribe meeting audio). Once your recording has been transcribed by Dragon you can then send the document to your secretary for proof-reading and editing. All Philips recorders are compatible with Dragon and received a 6-star rating from Nuance.
Alternatively, if you have a typist or secretary (or for meeting transcription) you will then need to purchase a transcription kit, which includes:
- Transcription software with good pause/play and rewind features.
- A pedal to stop and start the recording.
- Headphones to help the transcriptionist hear the recording accurately.
Please contact us for more information on how the Philips range of professional recording and transcription devices can benefit you and your firm.