Peer to Peer Magazine

March 2011

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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The Evolution of Dictation by Florian Schwiecker “Please take a memo.” Ever since that phrase was first uttered, dictation has been an indelible part of the legal landscape. Over the years, changes in technology have made the legal dictation process faster and easier — from steno pads and typewriters to personal computers and mobile solutions. The most common dictation technology, until recently, was the analog tape recorder. However, law firms are increasingly exploring the ability of digital and mobile technologies to further streamline dictation workflow and enhance productivity. The analog recording process is simple: attorneys dictate into a handheld or desktop device, remove the cassette and deliver it for transcription. The growing familiarity with digital dictation and document creation, coupled with heightened sensitivity to security and confidentiality issues, has made digital dictation a more accepted way for attorneys to record, share and archive documents. The flexibility afforded by mobile solutions for smartphones and tablets provides an even greater degree of connectivity. Whether an attorney is in the courtroom or a meeting across town, he can remain in touch with the firm at all times. These technological advancements are great; however, deciding whether digital dictation and 84 www.iltanet.org Peer to Peer document creation is right for an individual law firm requires an understanding of how the technology works and the advantages it offers. How Digital Dictation Works Analog dictation does provide a certain degree of mobility. Handheld recorders allow attorneys to complete dictation from their offices, in court, or offsite at depositions and conferences. The challenge is getting the actual cassettes to an assistant or transcriptionist. In the office, attorneys can physically hand the tape over or send it through internal office mail. From remote locations, they must rely on a courier or the postal service. Once the tape is received, transcriptionists must listen to the dictation — starting and stopping, fast- forwarding and rewinding — to decipher every word. Digital dictation, on the other hand, offers broader mobility and flexibility due to the wide array of hardware devices. While attorneys can use small, ergonomic digital recorders that are similar to analog recorders, they also can dictate on their iPhones, iPads and BlackBerry devices, and then send their voice recordings directly to their assistants. They can dictate whether they are in the office, at a client site, in the courthouse or on the move.

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