Peer to Peer Magazine

September 2011

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 76 of 107

Goodbye Tapes: How Digital Dictation Helps Firms "Go Green" by Florian Schwiecker, Director of Philips Speech Consulting North America digital format allows users to streamline the dictation process and enhance mobility, efficiency, accuracy and security. Another lesser-known, but equally important, advantage of this technology is its reduced environmental impact as compared to analog devices. In fact, for law firms looking to go green, digital technology can offer several significant environmental benefits: T • Eliminating the Need for Waste-Producing Cassette Tapes. Unlike digital technology, analog dictation equipment requires users to record information using cassette tapes, and these tapes tend to wear out quickly with frequent use. As cassettes begin to crackle and fall apart (typically after 30 to 40 uses), they must be thrown out. Each year, millions of these tapes make their way into landfills across the country. Made of plastic and containing lead, they are not only nonrecyclable, but are potentially harmful. Eliminating the need for them is probably one of the biggest environmental benefits of digital technology. • Promoting the Telecommute. As people become more connected via computers and the Internet, many law firms are allowing, and even encouraging, their staff to work remotely. Digital transcription technology allows transcriptionists and lawyers to work outside the office, because these individuals can access, interact with and process digital recordings via the computer. Telecommuting all but eliminates the need to commute via car or public transportation, thus reducing gas consumption, car exhaust and other negative environmental effects associated with motor vehicles. And as more and more individuals telecommute, law firms can reduce the amount of physical office space they need. This lowers the firm's energy footprint by lessening electricity, heating, cooling and water use. 78 Peer to Peer he emergence of digital dictation technology — using a digital recorder to capture audio information and then electronically transferring that information for transcription — has changed the way attorneys perform the fundamental task of dictation. The • Supporting a Paper-Free Process. Because digital dictation equipment can interface with a law firm's electronic document management systems, it can greatly reduce the need for paper. All aspects of the dictation and transcription process can be accomplished electronically. Paper is required only when a hard copy of the transcription is necessary. • Sustaining More Environmentally Friendly Designs. Digital dictation equipment manufacturers have started investing money and effort in designing their equipment to have less total environmental impact. Newly designed products consume less energy, are made of more environmentally friendly materials, have smaller package volume and are created using "greener" manufacturing processes. Some products used internationally are designed with power supplies that are compatible with systems across the world, thus reducing the need for multiple versions of the same product. Many new products are also lead-free, which not only limits environmental effects but promotes user health as well. To fully illustrate their commitment to the green movement, some manufacturing companies are seeking certification from third parties for the sustainability and environmental impact of their digital products. Going green can also help law firms realize valuable cost savings. For example, some digital dictation companies are incentivizing law firms to move away from analog systems and join the digital movement. To do this, they offer cash discounts and other monetary bonuses for law firms that make the switch. In short, moving to digital dictation and transcription processes can help law firms reduce their negative effect on the environment and support a greener workplace. The products to help achieve these goals are available now. Law firms just need to make the commitment and embrace the technology. ILTA

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