8 min read

How is Speech Recognition Technology Changing the Dictation Game?

Written by
Joakim Hjønnevåg
Published on
November 10, 2020

Joakim is a marketing professional with a track record of applying cost-effective and lean strategies to achieve growth. He is the Marketing Lead of Bilr, a legal billing software that helps lawyers increase the efficiency of timekeeping. Furthermore, he's a published writer, with several articles such as "Can Smart Contracts Replace Lawyers?" published in leading tech publications and cited by others.

Dictation recorders are rarely used by lawyers these days, despite their popularity in the past. Lawyers are becoming technologically diverse to reflect the changing realities of the legal industry. According to a survey conducted by the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) in 2017, the legal industry’s use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies is rapidly increasing.

AI and ML technologies are now being used for contract review, compliance analysis, and legal research. Voice recognition capabilities are also bringing about an unprecedented transformation in the legal industry. In fact, the legal industry is one of the few sectors that have welcomed innovations in speech recognition.

The way in which a lawyer gives dictation has undergone a monumental evolution. This evolution in dictation has been spurred alongside voice-based technologies. Lawyers and law firms alike have become ensconced with reducing overhead costs and improving operational efficiency proportional to the demands of their competitive industry. Speech recognition technology is a key factor to actualizing these goals.

Speech recognition technology is gaining popularity because it makes the job of lawyers easier. Using speech-to-text technology, lawyers can produce roughly 5,000 words an hour. This is significantly higher than typing away on a computer or requiring a clerk to type up recorded entries. Consequently, speech recognition technology has worked towards improving lawyer-client relationships, as well as streamlining the timekeeping process. With all the advancements in speech recognition technology, alongside key developments in legal timekeeping software, the possibilities for lawyers and law firms are endless.

Dictation Machines of the Past

Decades ago, original dictation machines were considered to be the peak technological advancement for law firms. However, they were not portable. This was later solved by the advent of cassette tapes bearing portable dictation devices. Unfortunately, these also had drawbacks. Cassette based dictation machines would often yield a pile of tapes that transcription clerks would spend all their day listening to in order to get the information they needed onto paper. Because the clerks were constantly interrupted by other urgent tasks, it was difficult for lawyers to estimate when they would get the transcription back.

Changing the Dictation Game

The emergence of smart phones and legal speech recognition software has changed the face of traditional dictation. Speech recognition, voice productive technologies and timekeeping apps have freed up time for lawyers to actually practice law.

It is quite common among lawyers to observe a delay in recording hours in their time and billing systems. This often leads to a situation where they find it difficult to recall how they should bill correctly. In turn, this results in a loss of revenue.

With the assistance of an efficient speech recognition technology such as Bilr, lawyers are able to dictate their billable hours immediately after completing an appointment, meeting or task. Lawyers can even dictate time and billing information when they are out of office. This ensures that the tracking of billable hours is as efficient as possible.

Speech recognition technology ensures that lawyers are able to transition their notes and comments into documents far quicker than if they were using manual transcription. This is combined with the benefit of having easy access to these documents on their phones and laptops while they are out of office.

Furthermore, speech recognition technology is more cost effective than cassette tapes and recorders paired with clerks. Smart speech recognition technology is easy to use and creates far more value than dictation machines. Top performing speech recognition technology is cloud-based, which reduces the need for training, support and storage.

Advantages of Speech Recognition Technology

There are multiple advantages of using speech recognition technology. Some of them are:

  • Reduced document turnaround time.
  • Restructuring documentation related efforts.
  • Decreased cost of transcription.
  • Increased lawyer interaction and understanding of clients and their problems.
  • Affording lawyers more time to focus on practicing law.

All of these advantages can be realized without needing to change the existing business model and IT infrastructure. Speech recognition technology uses language modelling to identify and differentiate between the millions of human expressions that form a language.

Statistical models are used to analyse and interpret the incoming speech. This interpretation is called speech recognition. Speech recognition success is measured by the number of correct interpretations. For instance, Bilr’s speech-to-text has 95% accuracy regardless of accent or dialect. Technological solutions such as these are pushing the threshold of innovation in the legal domain.

Applications of Speech Recognition Technology

While law firms and lawyers use speech recognition differently, common applications of speech recognition technology in the general legal sphere are:

  • Creation and management of documents - Law firms have been fairly dependent on paralegals and transcription clerks to transcribe client memos, briefs, contracts, motions and deposition summaries. This can drain the revenue of the firm and elongate the cycle of dictation.
  • By using a speech recognition software, a lawyer can dictate the document to their device as opposed to typing it. Once speech recognition transcribes the dictation, it can then be checked for accuracy, thus eliminating the need to pay for a paralegal or billing clerk
  • Summarization of text and audio - Speech recognition software can work faster than a lawyer to search across the plethora of judgements, case files, and trial audio/video. Speech recognition software – especially software that is AI-enabled – can use ML models to deliver precise summaries of lengthy text.
  • This functionality is of particular interest for those wishing to condense copious amounts of data.
  • Analytics - Rapid and cost-effective transcription of audio and video files eligible for evidence is essential. Given that trials and depositions are being recorded on video more than ever, analytics offered by speech recognition technology can detect crucial legal elements that can be used in remote digitized legal proceedings.

Speech recognition technology applied to timekeeping and other areas of law firms have liberated lawyers to work faster, smarter and better.

Why Should Lawyers Care About Speech-to-Text?

Lawyers no longer have to be glued to their keyboards or to their office. While the legal industry transitions from digital to mobile, lawyers must let go of their keyboards in favor of increased productivity with speech recognition technology.

Ease of use has made lawyers particularly interested in speech recognition technology. Moreover, speech recognition technology presents an opportunity for lawyers to enhance the important legal skill of speaking in a rational, articulate and persuasive manner – which is not always possible if they are just typing on a keyboard.

Our product, Bilr, makes timekeeping a breeze with speech-to-text applied with a focus on tracking billable hours and tasks. If you think this could be of interest to your firm, reach out to us or schedule a demonstration by clicking here.

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