Although the economy appears to be emerging slowly from recession, with a few recent optimistic signs of recovery, for many law firms the decision to take on new staff still remains a difficult one. Efficiency is very much the order of the day in the legal services sector and few firms have the spare capacity in their support services necessary to cope with sharp increases in business activity. Outsourcing dictation service provider DictateNow is one business reaping the benefit of this situation as businesses seek alternatives to increasing their headcount, when the recovery remains fragile at best.

One recent addition to DictateNow’s growing portfolio of law firm clients, top UK law firm Lewis Silkin, finds the service offered fits the bill perfectly. Annie Downes, Head of Sales for DictateNow commented:  “We offer a service for law firms that dovetails neatly into their in-house capacity for transcribing dictation from fee-earners, without monthly subscriptions or minimum usage requirements.

“This has proved particularly useful for Lewis Silkin as they sought to cope with sudden increases in demand for transcribing caused by new business or the firm’s ‘power dictators’ requiring large amounts of dictation at short notice, with a quick turnaround. The ease with which work can be directed to our typists, at all times of the day or night, including weekends and holidays has taken the pressure off the firm’s secretaries.”

The decision to outsource the overflow of dictation at LewisSilkin was jointly made by HR Director Penny Newman and Director of IT & Operations Jan Durant, reflecting the resource and technical nature of the issue. Newman explains: “We had times when a backlog of dictation work would cause a few issues. A quick analysis of existing dictation patterns and secretarial activity proved we had demand across all areas, but not yet enough to justify additional recruitment. Jan suggested we look at technology to provide the solution.”

Durant adds: “The DictateNow Admin Portal integrates with our systems and allows us to monitor accurately the dictation being diverted to DictateNow, with the option for us to divert work internally when resources become available. Lawyers document all their advice and I believe the legal sector produces more written documentation than any other sector, which is why law firms have such large document management systems. It is a natural progression to provide fee-earners not only with the flexibility to work 24/7/365, but with a service that integrates easily with our document management system.”

Newman continues: “We have advised all our secretarial co-ordinators about DictateNow, so they can offer this service to fee-earners that might need urgent out of hours support. Because all the typing is done directly into our case management system, the service integrates perfectly and users often forget we are outsourcing. The quality and accuracy of the typed dictations are excellent. Our work is often picked up by the same typists, who know their way round our systems and our power dictators they really feel an extension of our team, rather than an external service provider.

“Fee-earners work demands vary greatly and they cannot predict when they will need support, which is guaranteed to coincide with a busy period or needed after normal office hours. DictateNow delivers the service we need, without investing in more in-house secretarial support. We have used the service for a year now, including an extended trial, designed to overcome any scepticism from fee-earners. The results are positive and the feedback is all good.”