Should lawyers use Dragon Dictation

by Sep 17, 2015

NOTE:  The text of this blog post is completely un-edited. This is intentional. I have done this because I’d like our readers to see any grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors that result from creating a blog post entirely hands-free.  The picture of me, with my headset, was taken right before I started dictating this post. Because I am a novice at using the software that will be described in this blog post, the post will lack the usual bold, italics, and headings that I would normally include as I write a blog posts using a keyboard. That said, let’s jump in.

When I was a young lawyer, the older lawyers in the office in which I was sharing space used Dictaphone’s. These were quaint yet clunky devices the recorded voice to cassette tapes. Been quite sure at the time that those older and wiser attorneys around me were on to something, I jumped on the Dictaphone bandwagon, and quickly started dictating my work.

Today I look back and chuckle as to how it must’ve looked for a 26-year-old, in 1999, to be sitting there feet up on an old oak desk talking into a microphone. I would then walk out to my paralegals cubicle, and hand her a tape or tapes of the days dictation, and expect that my words would be turned into neatly formatted WordPerfect documents the next day.

How technology has changed.  A few years into my practice, as I became more obsessed with finding more efficient ways to build my business using technology, I stumbled upon a speech recognition program called Dragon naturally speaking. I eagerly forked over the hundred or 200 bucks for the boxed software, installed it on my windows XP machine, and hope for the best. After several hours of training, reading nonsense  paragraphs provided by the software, into a headset, the thing was supposed to be able to recognize my speech and transcribe it.

Back then, the thing didn’t work.  It would wildly misinterpret most of my words, and any legal words that I would throw at it, forget about it. The software simply was not worth it. I tried again a few different times over the years, but up until today, have always felt more efficient simply typing into the computer myself.

Yesterday that all changed. I decided to take another chance on a Dragon product, for my MacBook Pro. I went to the nuance software site, purchased and downloaded the most recent version of Dragon Dictate for Mac. I have to say, that this works better, and more accurately, then my fingers on the keyboard.

Up until today, if you were to have asked me should lawyers use Dragon dictation software for their law firms, I would’ve said emphatically “no!”  Today that changes. My position is that any lawyer who does not simply love typing with their fingers on the keyboard ought to give dictation software, and specifically Dragon software, another look.

Let me get the obvious question out of the way first. I am not in any way affiliated with Dragon software, or their parent company, and have not been asked to write this review. Nor do I receive any compensation for any lawyer who may read this and become a user and customer of Dragon.

Although I’m sure that speaking rather than typing will take some getting used to, I already love the fact that I can check my work, my words, and my formatting in real time as I speak. These words that I’m speaking are appearing instantly on my screen. Now, I’ve been known for my less than concise blog posts in the past. So we’ll see if the ability to speak which I can do much faster than typing, will cause my posts to be even more long-winded.

What is necessary for an attorney to effectively use Dragon Dictate?

I attribute much of the accuracy that I am experiencing with the most recent version of Dragon Dictate to my use of a high quality, noise canceling USB headset. While there are a number of headsets on the market, and I can’t vouch for anyone in particular, I can say that I’ve had a great experience so far with my Andrae anti-noise  USB headset. I have not yet tried dictation using a wireless or Bluetooth headset.

How can attorneys effectively use Dragon Dictate?

Having now used this wonderful software for less than an aggregate total of one hour, I can already see many uses it will make attorneys much more efficient. Here at LawLytics,  we love to encourage our attorney – customers to create lots of high quality content for their law firms websites and blogs. However, this is often easier said than done. Attorneys are busy, and sometimes the act of sitting down putting fingers to keyboard, and simply starting to write is the most difficult part of the process.

I can imagine that with some attorneys, being able to simply login to their LawLytics control panel  press the dictate button in the Dragon software, and start talking, will make overcoming inertia or writers block easier. I believe that for attorneys who understand the high-value of adding content to their websites and blogs, the ability to speak their minds, literally, on their blogs, will be worth the $200 price tag of the software.

Dictating trial preparation using Dragon software

When I was practicing law, I was not a big fan of writing out my opening and closing arguments when I went to trial. I would however, put in a substantial amount of practice, especially for opening statements in complex cases. The problem with rehearsing these things was that sometimes what I said in practice would sound better to me than at other times. If I were currently practicing law and preparing for an opening statement and a trial, I can envision putting on the Dragon software, wearing the headset, and practicing what I would say. This would allow me to later go back and read the words that were spontaneously coming out of my mouth, check them at a later time, and preserve the gems well identifying weak word choices.

Other ways lawyers can use dictation software

There are so many ways that law firms can make use of this technology to make their businesses more efficient. Here are some:

  • creating file memos;
  • creating memos for staff;
  • speaking emails rather than writing them;
  • taking notes while conducting book-based research.

What ways have you thought of to use dictation software to make the practice of  law easier on you and your staff? Now the Dragon software has reached an acceptable level of accuracy and responsiveness, I think that there will be few, if any, limitations on what lawyers can do with it.

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