Most lawyers are familiar with old-fashioned analog tape dictation. First, you dictate into a hand held device, which records your voice onto a tape. Then you drop the tape, which holds an assortment of dictation projects, arranged sequentially rather than in order of importance, into your secretary’s desk. It’s a familiar song and dance and one that most attorneys despise. Eventually you receive the transcribed result of the dictation, which then needs to be reviewed, edited and returned to your secretary, who then must revise the document, return it to you, etc.
This archaic process is inefficient and arduous, with the only side benefit being that it sometimes results in very funny transcription errors. Unfortunately, the laughs don’t make up for the downfalls of an otherwise outdated system.
Fortunately, lawyers now have other options, including digital dictation and voice-to-text transcription.
Digital dictation, whereby a lawyer dictates into a handheld device and the sound is converted into a digital file, offers many benefits over traditional dictation methods.
1) allows an attorney to edit the digital file before it is sent to the secretary,
2) permits more important projects to be marked as such and pushed to the front of the queue and
3) can be created anywhere since the end product can be sent electronically to the transcriptionist.
Winscribe offers a number of good digital dictation services.
Another type of digital dictation allows you to dictate into a handheld device, and then the sound file is sent to an off-site transcriptionist, rather than your secretary. It is then converted into text and returned to you via email. An example of this type of digital dictation is My Caption, a Blackberry app.
Finally, voice to text recognition allows lawyers to dictate into a hand held device, and the speech is then converted into text instantaneously. The software programs behind these products have become increasingly accurate over time. Dragon Dictation is a well-known example of this type of digital dictation. If you have an iPhone, don’t miss the Dragon Dictation app —it’s free and works very well.
If you’d like to learn more about digital dictation, this ABA Law Practice Today article offers a thorough summary of the different types of digital dictation and its many benefits.