Most of you might be aware of screen-share software such as ‘TeamViewer’. Screen-share software has immense utility in an advocate's office.
There are predominantly two types of screen-share software. One type is where the other person’s screen is mirrored on your device, but you cannot control their device. An example of this type is screen-share though skype.
In the other type, apart from mirroring the other person’s screen, you can also fully control the other person’s computer on your device (such as TeamViewer, Parallels Access, etc).
I refer to the latter type in this post.
SCREEN-SHARE SOFTWARE FOR DIRECT DICTATION
I did not want my typist to set up a keyboard on my computer every time I wanted to dictate a draft. I wanted the ability to dictate remotely from anywhere with same functionality.
Before I deal with the scree-share software’s utility in direct dictation, let me share with you the other methods I experimented with for direct dictation and the hurdles I faced in each situation, which eventually propelled me towards screen-share software.
Google Docs: Google Docs is an excellent collaborative tool which permit simultaneous editing of a document without any lag. Though, I could dictate one or two drafts in this method, it eventually was unproductive. I experienced the following difficulties.
1) Google Docs is only available on a web browser. As offline work happens on Microsoft Word, the draft should be uploaded and downloaded every time during dictation. This process is very cumbersome for sustained implementation.
2) There is lot of difference between Microsoft Word and Google Docs. Most typists are not conversant with Google Docs.
3) There are formatting differences between documents worked on Google Docs and Microsoft Word.
Therefore, Google Docs turned out to be an unviable option for remote dictation.
Office 365: When the Google Docs experiment failed, I found out that the latest Microsoft Word (as a part of Office 365 subscription) comes with an option for 2 persons to simultaneously work on same documents (just like google docs) without the need to work on a browser.
However, when I used this model for dictation, there was considerable time lag. I could only see the typed content after 10 to 15 seconds (sometimes even longer). It was impossible to execute direct dictation with such lag.
I called Microsoft customer support multiple times for help to eliminate the lag. Their executive used to remotely connect with me to assess the issue.
In one such sessions, it occurred to me that I can use the same technology for direct dictation as my typist’s computer screen essentially becomes my computer screen and both of us can work on the same document.
Finally, screen-share software: When I experimented direct dictation with screen-share software (I first worked with TeamViewer business version and currently use Parallels Access), I was amazed at the speed of connection with almost zero lag.
There is no lag, whatsoever, even when I worked on a mobile device. Most screen share software also have mobile applications. Thus, when you are travelling, your mobile phone or tablet can fully mirror your typist’s desktop.
Following are the advantages of direct dictation using a screen share software:
1. I could dictate from anywhere without the requirement of personal interaction between me and my typist.
2. When my typist needs to travel to his home town or wants to take day off, I could still execute urgent dictations.
3. You can employ a typist anywhere in the country and still work with the same experience.
4. A group of young lawyers can employ a common typist who can work from home for all of them.
5. Freelance typists can collaborate with lawyers to take dictation remotely without the necessity to travel to multiple offices.
OTHER ADVANTAGES OF SCREEN-SHARE SOFTWARE IN AN ADVOCATE'S OFFICE
Apart from direct dictation, screen-share software also has the following utilities:
Eliminates the requirement of a laptop
This utility is applicable for Apple and Android tablet users.
Tablets operate on a different operating system (iPad’s IOS in my case). They don’t have full versions of many important and frequently used software. For example, Microsoft Word on iPad is extremely basic and insufficient for full formatting.
Though 90 % of the work can be completed on iPad, I still needed to have a laptop for the balance 10 % work. Therefore, I was constrained to carry my iPad and laptop when I travelled.
After subscribing to a screen-share software, I placed a CPU (without any monitor, mouse and keyboard) in an obscure place in office, which was connected to the internet and operates 24 X 7.
Whenever I need to work on desktop version of any software, I can, with one click, remotely access the computer through screen-share software. Voila, my iPad becomes a full-scale desktop computer.
Helps in remote client meetings
Screen-share software is frequently used by IT companies to solve customers’ problems. Sometimes, a mere look at the other person’s screen will make you understand issues which cannot be communicated though verbal communication.
This utility also applies to Advocates. Many times, people struggle to communicate what they see on their screen. Such issues can be diffused immediately with a screen-share software without a volley of unnecessary correspondence or conversation.
Following use case scenarios may be noted:
1) Imagine an outstation client has voluminous record which he wants to discuss with you, page by page. Instead of him travelling to your office, he can share his screen with you (or vice versa) and you can simultaneously go through the documents without any miscommunication.
2) I once had to assure myself about the email correspondence between my client and the opposite party. However, my client was not well conversant with computers and was not able to execute the search. I did not want to take his email id and password. Screen-share software immediately solved the problem as I could exactly see his screen when he was executing my instructions.
Co-ordinate with your staff
Similar to your client, you can also solve most situations with your staff merely by looking at their screen without any necessity of personal interaction or emails & corrections.
Screen-share software offers immense utility for Advocates. Screen-share software is sine qua non if you wish to explore greater depths of office digitization (more on this is dealt with in Office 3.0 and Office 4.0).