Posted by Andrew Davies, managing director of Legal Futures Associate SpeechWrite 
From memos, letters and emails, through to contracts and court forms – lawyers’ daily lives revolve around compiling documents. And in a profession where time is money, the more streamlined and intuitive this process is, the better.
Dictating is around three times faster than typing, making voice recognition technology an invaluable tool in the deadline-driven world of law. Plus, with 99% levels of accuracy, it enables lawyers to be sure that their written output will be right first time, reducing the need for repeated proofreading.
Add in the fact that voice recognition technology is highly portable – allowing for contemporaneous note-taking or post-meeting updates – and it’s easy to see why an increasing number of law firms are utilising this modern way of transcribing.
Furthermore, advanced voice recognition  software goes beyond dictation alone, allowing users to carry out a wide range of commands by voice.
Most Microsoft applications are supported. Want to write a new email in Outlook? Simply say “new email”, then go on to populate that email using voice recognition. A Word document can be printed out by saying “print file”. Even web pages can be navigated by voice command alone (eg. “go back” to return to the previous page etc).
Getting the most out of voice recognition software
As with everything, there’s a slight learning curve when it comes to getting the most out of voice recognition software – but it’s a quick one.
In fact, with people becoming increasingly adept at commanding Siri, Google or Amazon Alexa at home, there’s not too much of a shift required to become proficient at utilising voice recognition software in the workplace.
The following do’s and don’ts will help hone your dictation technique in no time:
- Do speak clearly and naturally into the microphone – just as you would if you were talking to someone. This is particularly easy for legal professionals to master, as enunciating clearly generally comes as second nature.
- Do remember to use punctuation, i.e. state when you want to add a full stop, comma or new line. If you don’t, the final text will be one long string of words.
- Do find a quiet place to dictate. Reducing distractions will help aid concentration.
- Do it. The more you dictate, the more you’ll get into the rhythm of it.
- Do get to know punctuation commands, e.g. full stop, comma, new line, new paragraph, question mark, open bracket, close bracket, open quote, close quote etc.
- Don’t speak in a staccato manner, saying just one word at a time.
- Don’t rush either – try to maintain a natural, fluid pace but afford yourself enough time to think ahead.
- Don’t shout and don’t hold the microphone too close to your face. Simply dictate in your normal speaking voice with the microphone a couple of inches from your face.
- Don’t worry about apostrophes – just say the word like you normally would, e.g. “that’s enough”.
- Don’t worry about capital letters. The software will automatically add the correct capitalisation, e.g. the first letter after a full stop. It also recognises proper nouns.