Speech Recognition Helps Lawyers Cut Through Backlog

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Wainwright Ryan Eid Lawyers is a Melbourne, Australia-based law firm that has amassed a substantial national and international client base since its establishment in the mid-1950s. The company focuses on building and construction law, commercial and business law, property and taxation law, wills and estate planning, and dispute resolution. It provides advice on matters relating to international trade and commerce, encompassing importing and exporting, mergers and acquisitions of businesses, completing due diligence, risk management, negotiating and drafting contracts, and the sale, acquisition, and financing of shares and land. Wainwright Ryan Eid works on behalf of industry associations and institutions, private and public corporations, and several global private clients in Australia and the U.S., Middle East, and Europe.

Despite a large and varied client base, the firm saw room for improvement. The analog tape dictation system it was using constrained Wainwright Ryan Eid's growth potential, which translated to decreased productivity. Despite the many hours transcriptionists put in, there was still a document backlog of as long as two weeks.

In September 2012, the firm deployed BigHand's Voice Productivity solution, designed specifically for the legal market. BigHand's solution automatically records, edits, and transfers digital dictations and voice files, and shares information with employees across the company. BigHand solutions can also be used with iPhones, Androids, Windows Mobile, and Blackberry devices. The company's Voice Productivity scalable software provides two types of speech recognition. The first sends dictation to a server for transcribing; the other is performed on the client side, allowing text to be typed in real time as the author dictates information.

With BigHand Speech Recognition, employees can convert voice to text and finish documents without needing to touch a keyboard. According to Troy Edwards, manager of the law firm's BigHand project, the solution enables emails, documents, and file notes to be structured more quickly since they only need proofing, and don't need listening, typing, and relistening. The already transcribed work is placed into the workflow, with proofing work completed by the next available staff member instead of a dedicated secretary.

With the speech recognition solution, the law firm is able to improve workflow by enabling employees to access documents as soon as they are submitted, whether they are generated onsite or from an author's smartphone. Edwards says that the staff used to spend almost 80 percent of their day typing; with the BigHand software, that number has dropped to roughly 65 percent, as authors can file dictations straight into the company's templates. Additionally, the solutions have boosted document turnaround times by 50 percent.

After just one week, BigHand's software increased the law firm's first-time accuracy rate from 70 percent to 95 percent. Additionally, the authors' initial profiles were trained by BigHand in as little as 30 minutes. The transition is handled seamlessly, allowing authors to dictate as they normally would, without having to learn the system. The solution is also constantly learning speech patterns, and accuracy improves over time with use. The backlog that was once as long as 14 days at busy times has now been reduced almost to zero.

"Minimal impact on workload combined with efficiency gains and cost reduction has proved the investment to be a great success," Edwards says. "We recommend that firms who are seeking new ways to give themselves a boost in a slowing economy look to BigHand to provide them with the technology and tools required to boost efficiency and cut costs. The return on investment is quickly realized, and the results speak for themselves."

App at a Glance

By implementing BigHand's voice productivity and speech recognition solutions, Wainwright Ryan Eid was able to:

  • reduce its document backlog from 14 days to nearly 0;
  • increase first-time accuracy from 70 percent to 95 percent after one week; and
  • reduce the time assistants spend typing per day from 80 percent to roughly 65 percent.

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