The June issue of Legal Technology Insider is published later this week and one of the features it contains is the results of our latest Readers’ Poll.

We asked whether digital dictation is a transitory, interim technology* that will be rendered redundant by newer developments? We had a good response that saw some very definite views expressed.

• The first question was ‘are self typing lawyers more cost effective than lawyers who dictate’ – which produced a resounding ‘no’ from 68% of respondents. That said, 60% did say they believed law students should be taught touch typing at law school – although we are not sure why as almost the same number (56%) said incoming trainees should not be tested for their typing ability.

• There was also an almost unanimous (83%) verdict that lawyers should not be deprived of secretaries just because they are adequate self typists, which does make sense because a good legal secretary has always done a lot more than type.

• We also asked about training, with 72% of respondents saying dictation training should become a standard part of induction at all firms, and 62% saying law firms should not teach trainees to touch type.

• Turning to future trends…
– 63% said they did not think a growing generation of computer literate lawyers would make dictation obsolete in 10 years;
– 72% said they did not think speech recognition would make dictation obsolete in 10 years; and
– 65% said they did not think speech recognition would make self typing obsolete in 10 years.

So, forget speech recognition and keep on dictating.

* And yes we realise that all technologies are transitory – however while some may have had a relatively short lifespan (like the audio cassette tape midway between vinyl albums and CDs – and yes we know CDs are themselves threathened by MP3 file downloads) – others enjoy a surprising longevity. For example, the QWERTY/Sholes keyboard was patented in 1874 to prevent the most frequently used keys on a mechanical, spring-driven typewriter keyboard from jamming. 134 years later it is still in use despite the fact the digital keyboard on a PC has no such jamming problems. (For the record, Thomas Edison invented the first dictation recorder in 1877.)