The History of Transcription and the Productivity of Law Firms
Whether the documents reside as paper in a customer’s red well or as electronic files on a computer, the process of their creation has changed little over time – someone writes them. In fact, along with dictation, typing has been a mainstay of the business process not only in the legal industry, but also in American businesses for decades.
Until the 1970s, the dictation-to-transcription process generally meant a secretary sitting in the same room with her “boss,” physically writing down each spoken word in a notebook using shorthand. After this time-consuming task, he would travel to his desk and typewriter and transcribe his notes as a first draft. The attorney did the revisions by hand and the document was rewritten from scratch on a new sheet of paper until the end, when it was last typed from scratch on letterhead, usually with multiple carbon copies. I’m sure anyone who grew up in the PC age can’t even imagine writing the same base document over and over again, but that’s how it was done!
In the late 1970s, the introduction of two pieces of office automation dramatically improved the document generation process: the cassette recorder and the electric word processor.
Rather than tying up a secretary for hours, a tape recorder allowed lawyers to dictate a tape which was then given to their secretary to transcribe throughout the day or, for larger documents, to the firm’s word processing department. . With the introduction of recorded dictation, the productivity of law firms skyrocketed! The secretary could answer phones and handle administrative tasks while transcribing and the attorneys enjoyed the new freedom of being able to “work” independently of their secretary and even the office, as long as they had their portable tape recorder, batteries, and new tapes that they could produce and produce. get “job done.
The next process improvement, or electric word processors, eliminated double-entry work from typewriter documents, and law firms embraced this “new in” technology with open arms. Leading the way was Corel’s WordPerfect®, which was created specifically for law firms and DOS, long before Windows and the far inferior (IMHO) Microsoft® Word were even a thought. To this day, WordPerfect’s Fkey functions remain in my memory and its Reveal Codes function makes it an “intuitive” application for most beginners.
The next improvement in the document generation process will undoubtedly be recognized as the leap from analog to digital dictation and the options that are later available.
It’s hard to imagine, but this relatively minor change in the way dictators produce work can bring many benefits to everyone, from dictators’ ability to work from any internet or phone connection; to the ability of human resources staff to track and monitor the actual work in progress in a company; to the flexibility to send files “at home” or to reduce costs, to a transcription provider or Virtual Assistant.
While it is true that in today’s world many lawyers write their work while sitting behind their keyboards, if a lawyer is quite knowledgeable about the computer and can type at a decent pace with all his fingers (OK, 8 is fine too! !), Then Cut and Paste previously created documents and other software enhancements, this method of creating documents can be an efficient use of time. However, since all attorneys ‘time is typically billable, it could be argued that less competent attorneys should not draft documents via keyboard, otherwise clients end up paying for administrative tasks at attorneys’ fees. Also, you need to pay close attention to metadata (the information hidden in documents) when cutting and pasting.
Just as music and video have moved away from “tapes”, so will dictation. The dictation / transcription process is still the best method to get the job done and upgrading to digital is truly unavoidable. It is said on the street (aka LegalTech NY) that analog transcription machines will soon be in short supply and small tapes will start to rise in price. If you see that, you know that the time to research digital equipment is near. Also, if your current equipment breaks down, really consider upgrading to digital. Everyone in your company will be happy that you made the change, including yourself.
My recommendation is products with a Philips or Olympus slide switch that are ordered through Bret Williams at www.AmericanDictation.com. Bret is an Authorized Reseller who is happy to offer preferential pricing and free shipping on orders over $ 200 just to mention “LegalTypist” .;)
As I try to follow the motto my dear mom instilled in me when I was little: “If you don’t have something nice to say … don’t say anything,” I feel compelled to be cautious. they would be the enhancers of Sony products. I’ve had nothing but trouble with their proprietary file types and dictators report that their buttons and functions are nearly impossible to understand. For those used to dictating on tape, I recommend models with a slide switch like the Phillips 9600, so it feels like a tape drive but without the tape! For those who are new to dictation, there are less expensive models that use buttons on the front, rather than the slide switch. I generally recommend these digital dictation units provided in the middle for those of what I call the “Game Boy” generation.