How to streamline document creation

McCollum Crowley is a business litigation and corporate counsel firm with 26 attorneys practicing out of three offices in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Colorado. Like most law firms, McCollum Crowley is always seeking ways to help its attorneys work more efficiently, not only to improve their productivity, but also to provide better service to their clients.

Recently, the firm found an effective method to accomplish both goals: streamlining the document creation process with advanced and integrated voice technology. After performing due diligence and consulting with our long-standing voice technology vendor and expert, Ken Kloss with, the company went for Philips digital handheld recorders and the SpeechExec Enterprise dictation management solution with speech recognition integration. Over three phases of integration, McCollum Crowley saved time and reduced unnecessary typing by eliminating antiquated technology and inefficient processes that stood in the way of their objectives.

Phase 1: Eliminate the tape

For decades, McCollum Crowley’s attorneys had utilized handheld tape recorders for dictation and transcription. That required attorneys to hand-off analog magnetic cassettes to their legal assistants and either send an email or a handwritten note to offer needed background and direction. This inconvenient workflow meant attorneys would need to wait until they were at the office to hand-off the cassette, as well as keep track of tiny cassettes, which also deteriorate over time.

Switching to Philips Pocket Memo handheld recorders, as the firm did several years ago, eliminated the tapes, but also allowed attorneys to share recordings with assistants directly through their laptop simply by docking the recorder.

Operating the Philips digital recorders is basically same as the analog devices, so attorneys had no trouble with the transition,” said Daniel J. Singel. “Digital recording just makes more sense.”

Phase 2: Adding speech recognition software

A short while after the Pocket Memo was introduced, the firm tested the Dragon Legal software solution with its lengthy medical chronologies and independent medical evaluation reports. The resulting documents were created much faster and more accurately than expected – and significantly faster than typing. Use of speech recognition software was then expanded for other types of documents thanks to positive word-of-mouth.

As more people were recognizing the benefits, word spread across the firm pretty quickly. That’s the best way to encourage technology adoption: Let people see the benefits themselves.”

Phase 3: Firm-wide integration

With new tools in place to create documents faster individually, the firm looked at a macro-level for efficiency improvements. Integrating the firm’s dictation and transcription management platform across all offices became the natural next step, and perhaps the most impactful.

To that end, McCollum Crowley implemented Philips SpeechExec Enterprise, allowing all professionals to view, access and share dictation files and created documents.

The introduction of SpeechExec Enterprise also enhanced efficiency by automatically generating meta-data from the dictation files such as author name, date and time, and dictation file format. This data and intuitive user interface allows attorneys to easily prioritize recordings, removing the need for a separate email, phone call or handwritten note. Assistants can also access each other’s dictation files, allowing colleagues and administrators to distribute workloads more efficiently.

A less noticeable benefit from the user’s perspective, but no less meaningful, is that SpeechExec Enterprise offers Active Directory integration and concurrent licensing, which means the firm no longer needed to purchase individual licenses for attorneys and legal assistants, saving costs and offering greater flexibility for assistants transcribing files.

I travel between Minneapolis and the other offices all the time. It’s nice now that no matter where I am, we’re all on the same system.”

Making their time – and money – count

Some of the benefits following the three-phase transition to more efficient, integrated voice technology have included:

  • Time savings of more than 1.5 hours a day thanks to more efficient transcription and document creation processes
  • Reduced documentation time by as much as 50 percent
  • Reduced maintenance fees on dictation management software
  • Additional cost reductions due to Active-Directory integration and concurrent licensing model

Perhaps the most important benefit, however, is that the efficient workflow has translated not only to improved client service in turnaround time on documents, but also to the ability to serve more clients in less time.

It’s crucial to understand your clients’ budgetary realities. Clients should expect their lawyer to not just accomplish their goals in litigation, but to do so at a price that is fair. That is why professionals in our industry need to continually explore new technology that help firms improve efficiency.”


Daniel J. Singel is a shareholder at McCollum Crowley representing clients in Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin in construction, personal injury, insurance, and other civil matters.

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