The Case for the Mobile Lawyer

Originally published in the 2013 ALA Palm Beach County Chapter Legal Expo Guide, March 22nd 2013

Imagine discussing a case with a client over lunch, commuting between cities, or preparing for a trial at the local court house without your smartphone or tablet. Feels naked, doesn’t it?

Nowadays, attorneys expect to have access to their core business applications and legal IT systems from wherever they are.

“No longer do attorneys want to be chained to their desks, they need a solution that enables them to be flexible and work on the move”, says Kenna M Davis, System Administrator at Krieg DeVault LLP based in Indianapolis.

And the rationale is simple. Enable attorneys to be productive while away from the office, and you can turn transit time into billable time. Empower them to be more flexible in their work and they will be happier. Give them access to the information they need and they can make better decisions and achieve better outcomes for their clients.

One particularly suited area for improving fee earner’s productivity is mobile dictation:

“Now as the needs of legal professionals continue to change, lawyers want to travel lighter. Many are now using their smartphones and tablets to take to client sites, and they can take their dictation solution with them on their iPhones and iPads without carrying excess baggage like a dedicated dictation device,” says Ms. Davis.

Of course, the solution you choose has to integrate well with the legal IT systems you are already using, provide a secure connection for transmission of dictation jobs and work well with the overall document production workflow of the firm.

Palm Beach based Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A., recently carried out a three month pilot of Winscribe’s mobile dictation application for iPhone and iPad, and were impressed by its ease of use and the way it integrates with the firm’s Winscribe installation across multiple offices.

“We chose Winscribe as it allowed us to utilize our existing hardware without incurring additional costs. We have four offices and have attorneys that travel between the different locations”, says Jeff Boes, IT Manager at Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A.,

“If an attorney is working from a different site, they have the option to choose to have work completed by their normal secretary or they can choose to have the transcription completed by a secretary at one of the other offices.”

The Palm Beach based law firm is one of many firms throughout the country that are embracing the mobile revolution:

“Our mobile dictation solution has helped our attorneys deliver information faster and more reliably.” says Angela Burza, System Manager at Clingen, Callow & McLean.

Christina James, IT Project Co-ordinator for Davis LLP also believes mobile dictation has helped improve the firm’s client service: “With our Winscribe mobile dictation solution, we can be sure that our fee earners provide the best service to their clients, no matter where they are. It has enabled us to streamline our dictation to transcription process and reduce administrative overhead, all while providing us with the latest technologies that appeal to our staff."

Edward Genocchio, Principal of Sydney based firm Spruson & Ferguson’s noted that while on a cross-country flight in the United States, “I was amazed to find out that I could use Wi-Fi in flight. So where I would normally sit idle, I managed to dictate instructions to my P.A. back in the Sydney office, which made it very productive for me”.

Yet, the ability to capture more billable time, be more responsive to clients and provide a flexible work environment is not the only reason why legal organizations choose to implement mobile dictation.

Some firms are even using networked dictation solutions like Winscribe as contingency in case of a natural disaster or other emergency:

“In 2006, Indianapolis experienced an extreme weather episode, and Krieg DeVault’s main office was severely damaged to the point where it was unusable for a period of time. Winscribe was a significant enabler in our Disaster Recovery Plan, as administrative assistants could be relocated to other offices and could transcribe dictations from lawyers that worked from home or moved to another office location during this time of distress,” explained Kenna M Davis, System Administrator at Krieg DeVault LLP.

That’s a consideration that may resonate well with many Florida based firms. According to Palm Beach Daily News reporter John Nelander, the city has been brushed by a tropical storm or hurricane 67 times since 1871.

Having a networked dictation solution connected to a workforce empowered by mobile technology may just keep your firm running after the next big one hits. Now that’s something to think about.

Click here to read the Krieg DeVault LLP Case study, as a PDF.

(c) Originally published in the 2013 ALA Palm Beach County Chapter Legal Expo Guide

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