We're often accused (by speech recognition software vendors) of being hard on speech recognition software by pointing out that most UK law firms prefer digital dictation technology (talking of which Howard Kennedy has just announced that it has implemented a Bighand digital dictation system over VMWare's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure – full story in this month's Insider newsletter) however to set the record straight, here is a speech recognition story…

Nuance Communications – the company that now owns the Dragon NaturallySpeaking product – has just announced the UK-based winners of its 'I Speak Dragon!' contest, which invited Dragon users to share their experiences of using speech recognition software on a PC.  There were two winners in the 'I Speak Dragon to Improve My Work' category and here are their winning entries:
 
Carl Rohsler – Solicitor Specialising in Gambling Law
About six months ago Carl was contacted by a publisher to see if he would write a work about the UK's new gambling legislation. The book was to be approximately 2,000 pages, of which Carl would be responsible for 250,000 words of analysis. A big task, and one that Carl would have to complete at the same time as his normal day job.
 
Carl decided to experiment with Dragon NaturallySpeaking and within an hour he was hooked. “After only a few days I had started to develop my own commands for citations, abbreviations and numbering. But it was the speed and the increase in stamina that was most impressive”, said Carl. Normally, after about 10 or 11 hours, Carl gets too tired to type accurately (his typing rate is about 40 words per minute). Dragon has allowed Carl to do everything more quickly and more accurately than manual typing. “I was sometimes able to produce more than 15,000 words of finished text in a weekend! I finished the whole project in six months.”
 
Dragon's ability to change Carl’s working life did not stop there. A few years ago, he met his wife, who is French, and began to learn to speak a language that he had not used since schooldays. He is now fairly fluent as a speaker, but had never read or written in French, and so his spelling and grammar was poor. Carl had the idea of using the French version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking to dictate e-mails and messages in French. “I knew what I wanted to say and Dragon did the grammar, accents, genders and spelling. I still can't get over watching French text appear like magic on the screen, which I could never possibly write myself!” Now Carl can email his family in France. “I cannot think of anything else which has had such a profound effect on my working life – a really, seriously, seriously amazing piece of kit, and for the same price as a pair of theatre tickets,” said Carl.
 
Jonathan Silverman – Founding Partner, London City Law Firm
Jonathan’s firm Silverman Sherliker LLP has been providing legal services to both UK and overseas clients for approximately 28 years. The company was introduced to Dragon in its very early days and was immediately able to demonstrate that the software was a very cost-effective tool for its practice.
 
“I started back in the days of version 1, dictating word by word diligently, and progressed through to the most recent release, which is simply stunning and beyond anyone's expectations!” said Jonathan. The traditional company structure was that it had one secretary between two lawyers, meaning when new lawyers joined, they had to find the space and the resources to cater for more secretaries. Dragon NaturallySpeaking cuts out the middle-man, saving the company £250,000 a year, which is a significant saving for a firm this size.
 
“Dragon has enabled us to grow as a firm without being a burden to the overhead of secretarial support and all the consequential costs. Gone are the days of recording a dictation, giving it to a secretary and waiting for it to come back. Our competitiveness stems from our ability to respond quickly and effectively, whether by e-mail or in correspondence and Dragon is central to that capability. We couldn’t have reached our level of turnover or profitability without using Dragon; it has quite simply revolutionised our practice.”