The value of speech recognition in your law firm

Speech recognition in law firms

The working environment at the end of 2021 looks very different to how it was in 2019, with remote working having been adopted to some degree by almost every sector. Estimates suggest that between 25-30% of the workforce will be remote working in some capacity by the end of 2021, compared to just 3.6% in 2018.

Law firms have risen to the challenge of how to maintain efficient but cost-effective documentation, dictation and transcription processes during extended periods of lockdown, remote working and staff furlough. Whilst cost efficiency has been critical, the requirement for accurate and timely documentation processes has not gone away.

The documentation process can be time consuming, and therefore expensive. Stakeholders are always looking for ways to remain competitive whilst continuing to provide the best service for their clients.  Speech recognition services are recognised as a possible solution by providing a supplement, or in some cases a complete replacement to traditional typing pools.

Nuance Communications Inc, a firm that was acquired by Microsoft in 2021, states that 82% of law firms are looking to invest in speech recognition technology in the coming years, after a research report into speech recognition and the new way of working post-covid.

Traditional dictation and transcription process

Prior to the uptake in digital technology secretaries were skilled in the use of shorthand and would write down the dictation in shorthand, to be followed up with a full document later on. With the introduction of tape cassettes and portable recorders in the late 1970s, firms began to introduce transcription pools where a bank of secretaries would share the workload from a number of lawyers. At this stage a lawyer would dictate into a tape recorder or digital voice recorder and send this recording to their pool of secretaries who would then type this dictation out in to a formatted document.

With the digital age came digital recorders, meaning the pool of secretaries no longer had to be on-site and dictation could be sent from an office to anywhere in the world.

Things have moved on again at pace, with speech recognition services becoming more advanced and more accurate, law firms are starting to adopt speech recognition systems and appreciate the value this can have both from a cost and a time perspective.

Legal firms looking to invest in speech recognition

Lawyer Monthly commissioned a survey of 1000 legal professionals and 20 IT decision-makers questioning their use of technology and their preparedness to adequately perform their job roles whilst remote working. 56% of respondents stated that they lacked adequate productivity tools to do their jobs, and the furloughing of secretarial and support staff will have contributed to this, especially without processes in place to replace the typing work they perform. This is evidenced by the fact that over 80% of respondents who did use speech recognition felt adequately supported.

Those who did utilise speech recognition services will have found themselves with more time available to be billing clients, as 67% of those who did not utilise speech recognition services regularly found themselves spending between 2 and 4 hours a day on typing alone!

Why law firms are exploring speech recognition

Speech recognition saves time

Legal transcription services and speech recognition services can save legal professionals hours of work every day. Outsourcing to a transcription and speech recognition service frees up a fee earner to focus on client facing work and increase billable output.

To spend less on support services/staff

Most legal practices will have a document production service in place, either a dedicated typing team, a secretarial team/individual who types as well as performing other duties or even external transcription services.

Human transcription services offer the highest level of accuracy, however, can be more expensive than speech recognition. When comparing outsourced transcription to speech recognition services always consider turnaround time guarantees, the option to prioritise urgent documents and accuracy levels.

Speech recognition reduces the cost and turnaround time of document production and adding a proofread to these documents can either be done by the legal professionals themselves, or by the speech recognition provider.

To support efficient home working

As more legal professionals adopt a mix between a return to the office and flexible remote working, the way document production is managed also needs to become flexible. A traditional typing pool available from 9am to 5pm may soon become outdated and the option of 24/7 support from a speech recognition service and human transcription service is something that is becoming commonplace.

Attract a new generation of legal professional

Law firms need to be agile and forward thinking. Trainees are learning to embrace speech recognition and voice recognition technologies whilst in law school, and will want to adopt this learning when selecting their future employers.  Being a technologically advanced law firm, embracing forward-thinking ideas will undoubtedly give law firms an edge over their competitors.

What next for law firms and speech recognition services?

The American Bar Association says “The advent of voice-recognition dictation has ushered in an entirely new and streamlined way to dictate documents”.  The role of artificial intelligence will play heavily in the future of any given law firms’ success. It is how the role of speech recognition plays in to this that will need to be evaluated on a firm-by-firm basis.

To find out more about a hybrid model of speech-to-text transcription services, Gordon Healiss, Commercial Director discusses Accuro’s service here, or for a conversation about how you can adopt speech recognition services today, please contact us below or sign up for free, here.

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