There are multiple dictation software which offer an exciting prospect of fully digitising the drafting process in an advocate's office.
Many of you might be also be ardent users of such software. However, in my opinion, the dictation software, in their current form, cannot replace a stenographer/typist. Here are 4 reasons why:
1. DICTATION SOFTWARE CANNOT UNDERSTAND ALL YOUR COMMANDS
Natural language commands will not work on dictation software. Even the best dictation software can only process basic commands.
Efficient legal drafting is not merely typing out the content. Efficient dictation requires a multitude of instructions to be followed by your typist/stenographer, such as extracts, moving from one section to another, etc. A dictation software cannot implement such commands.
2. DICTATION SOFTWARE CANNOT PREPARE THE BASIC DRAFT
Your steno/typist can prepare the skeleton format (such as memo of parties, documents description, index, etc) so that you can concentrate on the meat of the matter. Your steno/typist can also execute miscellaneous applications and other clerical documentation required for filing.
A dictation software cannot perform such tasks. As such, in most cases, you will end up manually spending time on all these sections, affecting efficiency.
3. YOU CANNOT WORK WITH DICTATION SOFTWARE IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES
Dictation software can only work effectively in noise-free environment. You cannot randomly sit in a court corridor or in the backseat of your car to finish your draft.
4. A STENOGRAPHER CAN ALSO PERFORM SECRETARIAL AND CLERICAL TASKS
Most importantly, a stenographer/typist can also perform secretarial and clerical tasks in office, such as calendar maintenance, email updates to clients. etc. In most offices, clerks are not well conversant with computers and it is the stenographer/typist who performs all digital tasks.
In your journey towards greater digitisation, it is also easy to train your typist in digital clerical tasks such as CPBH than your clerk.
IS DICTATION SOFTWARE A CORRECT OPTION FOR YOU?
In spite of above reasons, it would be incorrect to say that a dictation software has no utility for lawyers. I have personally used a dictation software and do acknowledge their contribution. My emphasis is only on why dictation software cannot fully replace a stenographer/typist.
Then, in what circumstances can a dictation software be a suitable solution? In my opinion, if you are currently typing your own drafts, and are planning to move towards direct dictation (and not stenographic dictation), you can explore a dictation software.
I sincerely hope that there will be a day in the near future when my views in this post will become obsolete.
Read the post(s) on implementing transcription in your office along with work flow