Four reasons why so many law firms are exploring speech recognition

Detailed, accurate documentation is one of the cornerstones of legal practice. And as the industry continues to modernise its practices, many firms are looking to transform this cornerstone with productivity tools such as speech recognition.

Recent advances in speech recognition have opened the door to more innovative ways of working, allowing legal professionals to create everything from case notes to correspondence in a fraction of the time, without relying on costly transcription services. That’s why many firms are already adopting the technology into their daily practices.

Don’t worry if you’re feeling out of the loop. Below, we’ve gathered four reasons why so many firms are embracing speech recognition today, and some insights on how the technology helps legal professionals in their roles.

1. They want to save their legal professionals hours of work every day

To understand the documentation challenges they’re facing, we asked more than 100 legal professionals and decision-makers about how long they spend typing every day.

80% of respondents told us they spend an average of four hours a day typing for work, using either a physical or digital keyboard. Plus, 73% said they spend at least another hour typing for personal reasons once they’ve shut down their work computer.

Often, firms will outsource admin work to help reduce this typing burden, but it’s a time-consuming process and an expensive additional cost. And not every task can be outsourced.

91% of the legal professionals surveyed said they send some of their admin work to typists and transcriptionists. But a lot of technical work—such as creating file notes, making case matter updates, and writing contracts—isn’t always suitable to delegate. For these tasks, the only way to save time is by improving legal professionals’ productivity.

Today’s leading speech-to-text solutions empower legal professionals to complete documentation simply by using their voice—which is on average three times faster than typing. This agility can help legal professionals free up as much as three hours every day for more valuable tasks.

2. They want to reduce their legal professionals’ stress levels

In the same survey, 94% of legal professionals said they’ve experienced workplace stress at some point in their careers. Working from home during the pandemic only amplified this stress and, in a lot of cases, led to a dip in legal professionals’ productivity.

This should be a cause for concern for any firms looking to prioritise productivity and client service over the next year. Without the right support, they might find their legal professionals underperforming—or even worse, taking long-term sickness or switching to less stressful careers.

Many firms are responding by targeting one of the roots of legal professionals’ stress: admin workloads. In the survey, 91% said their workload has contributed to their stress levels, and 58% agreed that they often struggle with the amount of documentation their role requires.

Cloud-based technologies such as data management and collaboration platforms are already helping to alleviate some of this workload. But firms also have an opportunity to introduce other helpful cloud-based tools like speech recognition to help their legal professionals tackle documentation more efficiently.

3. They want to stop rogue IT and stay compliant

As more firms begin to see the value of speech recognition, the market is quickly becoming crowded with freeware apps and tools. These solutions may appeal to a legal professional who’s overburdened with admin work, but they could create nightmares for their colleagues in IT.

When tech-savvy staff try to adopt their own speech-to-text solutions, they risk bringing in technologies that aren’t sufficiently secure or genuinely fit for purpose.

Freeware tools aren’t designed to meet the needs of legal professionals. They don’t have the flexibility to incorporate complex legal terminology, the powerful speech engines required for reliable recognition, or the encryption and user management capabilities most firms demand.

For many legal practices, the best way to prevent staff from turning to freeware is to evaluate the professional-grade solutions available and implement them with oversight from the IT team. This will help firms remain compliant and ensure their legal professionals have the best support possible.

4. They want to attract a new generation of legal professionals

The role of a legal professional has traditionally been depicted with stacks of leather-bound books and thick folders of notes. But, as a younger generation of lawyers joins the workforce, they’re bringing new ideas and technology demands along with them.

Younger lawyers are well-versed in using technology to make their lives easier—using new research and notetaking tools during their degrees, and consumer speech recognition assistants like Siri and Alexa throughout their personal lives. And they won’t want to give any of it up once they start their careers.

Forward-thinking law firms have a chance to stand out among slow adopters and demonstrate efficient, tech-enabled environments that’ll attract the most sought-after new talent. And that’ll mean adopting new tools—like speech recognition—that are quickly gaining popularity across the sector.

Discover the true value of speech recognition for legal professionals

We’ve covered just a few of the reasons law firms are adopting speech recognition tools today. Get our report, The Burden of Legal Documentation, to explore more of the challenges that are encouraging firms to embrace speech recognition—and see how our own solution, Dragon Professional Anywhere, is ideal for the complexities of the legal sector.

Explore the report

Read our report to explore the challenges legal professionals say are most pressing today, and see how firms are finding a solution in speech recognition.

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Ed McGuiggan

About Ed McGuiggan

Ed McGuiggan is General Manager for the Dragon Professional and Consumer business, overseeing the strategy for Nuance's Dragon speech recognition and documentation product line. Ed has held various leadership roles within Nuance over the past two decades, including the creation, development, and expansion of the company’s worldwide eCommerce business, as well as the management of the Corporate and Retail sales teams. Prior to joining Nuance in 1997, Ed held senior management roles at FTP Software and Corporate Software, Inc. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communications from Emerson College.