The advances in speech technology provides lawyers with the ability to provide faster and better service to clients, as well as enhancing efficiencies and profitability. One US law firm had a ‘gadget guy’ partner who explains how ‘voice solutions’ have helped power the firm’s growth
With more than 145 years of experience, Eastburn and Gray, PC is a law firm operating in Pennsylvania since 1877. However the law firm’s lengthy history has not meant that it has shunned the latest technology to continue its growth across its three offices and develop the firm’s ability to serve local and national clients more efficiently.
Marc Jonas is a shareholder in the firm, a recognized legal expert with a ‘Best Lawyers in America” 2023 naming and a self-proclaimed tech enthusiast and “gadget guy,” he’d already been utilizing various innovations at a previous firm to make the workday smoother and to get more done.
Upon arriving at Eastburn and Gray, he immediately noticed opportunities to streamline processes and workflows by harnessing the power of advanced voice solutions. Keeping up with growing volumes of client projects, as well as quickly and accurately recording billable hours (the most critical part of tracking and enhancing an attorney’s productivity), were difficult to achieve with the outdated technologies the firm’s teams had been using.
Mini cassettes and similar recording options are dependent on having a specific physical device on hand and come with additional issues such as unreliable audio quality, the scramble for clean tapes, hardware maintenance and replacement, and maintaining organized files among them.
Jonas knew that there was an easy and very feasible way to get past the challenges associated with outdated technology. He lobbied for the firm to adopt steps toward modernization. Just as the most gifted athletes need the right shoes to win races and the greatest chefs need quality ingredients to cook delicious meals, the lawyers at Eastburn and Gray needed the right tools to help them optimize their workday in an increasingly digitally driven world.
Search + serendipity = solution
In an effort to lead by example, Jonas began exploring new voice solutions on his own. He knew of the reputation of Philips as a provider of high-quality technologies. Then, at a local American Bar Association (ABA) event, serendipitously he met a Philips solution provider who demonstrated the use of the cloud-based Philips SpeechLive (which also works in combination with Philips SpeechExec Pro dictation and transcription software).
Jonas began the process of implementing the system into his firm.
Linking authors and legal assistants, SpeechExec Pro is an enterprise grade digital application that
facilitates communication, the setup of individual workflow settings, and organizational flexibility to help save time and resources. Offering workflow management and automation in every one’s [the attorney, the firm, and the client] best interest to harness the capabilities of advanced voice technology.”
Efficiency and flexibility that “speak” for themselves
The attorneys, legal assistants, and administrative staff at the firm saw irrefutable positive impacts in their workflow, led by Jonas, who maximizes every aspect of the Philips solutions implemented at the firm.
The resulting efficacy and increased work output did not go unnoticed by Eastburn and Gray’s Doylestown office, which had continued experiencing the issues posed by legacy dictation tools. Soon, they too implemented SpeechExec Pro and SpeechLive, and now about half the attorneys and legal assistants across the firm use some combination of the two solutions.
Some of the key benefits the firm has realized include:
Flexibility and mobility:
Jonas is diligent about optimizing time and keeping track of billable hours. SpeechLive allows him to do so easily and seamlessly throughout his workday.
Drafting memos as he’s leaving a client appointment, recording notes from his car after a municipal meeting (which may be late at night), referencing action items from cross-examination of a witness at a public hearing – these are all examples of how he’s removed the boundaries of the traditional office and traditional office hours and can send work to transcription or his assistant anytime, from anywhere.
As the legal world evolves, like most business sectors, to include more remote and hybrid work arrangements, it’s important to have tools with all the feature functionality available at a desk…ready to go from any device or platform.
Being able to do more with less staff is a challenge faced by many firms today. Philips intuitive applications allow attorneys to be more self-sufficient and allow support teams to do more in less time.
At Eastburn and Gray, “floaters” (legal assistants not assigned to specific attorneys) can help when and where needed, so the firm can accommodate for fluctuations in work volume. Because files can be accessed 24/7 from any device, the ebbs and flows of work are absorbed by whichever assistant has the bandwidth and are no cause for panic or confusion.
Burnout is common in a high-pressure, high-stakes field such as law, and it’s an industry that has typically been marked by long hours that encroach upon evenings and weekends.
Although the billable hour can be described as the bane of a lawyer’s existence, Jonas emphasizes that speech-to text technology is of significant help in reducing stress while increasing results. Especially for emerging talent, it’s important to learn how to manage time, use automation where appropriate, and delegate effectively to mitigate the amount of time spent on unnecessary tasks.
“As you progress in your legal career, you will take on more clients, have an increasing number of commitments, and so forth,” he says “and mastering the art of assigning work to the right support people and using technology to make the most out of every pocket of time is how you can do that – while still protecting your personal time.”
Recognized by the Best Lawyers in America four times in his practice area, and recently for 2023, Jonas speaks from experience, advising future generations of legal professionals to learn early on how to give themselves an edge.
“Being a lawyer is a hard job, and I owe much of my success to how I’ve been able to use technology to my advantage,” he says, adding, “What I hope I’ve illustrated to younger as well as more seasoned (and entrenched) colleagues is that understanding, appreciating, and integrating the right technologies into your professional practice establishes work habits that enable you to grow your career.”