By Legal Futures’ Associate SpeechWrite 
Whether it’s in conference or in court, it’s the lawyer’s job to eliminate the inconsequential, peripheral or immaterial and get to the point – to make a case in the most effective and efficient way possible.
So why should it be any different when it comes to the way workloads are handled? In an industry where time is money, finding new and innovative ways to free up time and streamline working processes is not just desirable, it’s becoming increasingly vital. As competitor firms start to switch on to the benefits of technological support, the push to reduce admin costs is becoming a top priority.
Technological solutions that save money in law firms
The use of technological solutions enables internal processes to run more smoothly and eliminates many of the repetitive tasks previously undertaken by secretaries and administrative staff. But it has a number of other advantages too, such as allowing firms to pass on the savings technology facilitates to their clients, in the form of lower fees, and providing greater flexibility for both lawyers and clients.
One area being transformed by technology is that of dictation. Digital dictation  itself is nothing new – but when combined with cutting-edge software solutions that allow for seamless integration across devices, then it’s easy to see how this could benefit firms. Voice recognition that is three times faster than typing is – for a profession that relies on drafting and amending documents – an invaluable tool for firms looking to create efficiencies. Various digital dictation apps can be used to create documents, either purely through voice recognition or with transcription support; the results are then automatically sent back to the author to check.
A study  by Thomson Reuters indicated that up to 40% of small firms’ time is spent on administrative, non-billable activities – which includes the actual process of billing itself. But now, with software systems designed to handle many tasks, time management is easier than ever. Furthermore, much of the software can help to cultivate a centralised workflow system, enabling all the relevant staff to view work across different offices, thereby allowing administrative resources to be shared.
But where does the legal secretary figure in all this?
For those wondering about the role of the legal secretary, far from being ousted by technological advancements, their roles will simply adapt. While shorthand may no longer be a requirement, the need to know about the application and use of relevant software tools will be paramount. New technologies provide growing opportunities for secretaries to add to their skill set, and to dedicate some of their time to non-traditional secretarial activities such as client liaison and marketing.
Ultimately, today’s law firms need to ensure they are maximising efficiencies in order to effectively compete in an increasingly challenging legal marketplace. Making effective use of tools such as digital dictation can free up back-office resources to focus on more profitable activities.