Anne-Sophie Vérité, lawyer, uses Philips digital dictation in her activity
Marchal & Associés law firm, Lille, France
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Long-since established in Lille and boasting 80 years of experience, the Marchal & Associés law firm is reputed as an expert in property law. This approachably sized firm comprises a team of twenty and is renowned for its offensive strategies in property lawsuits and for the drafting of constantly changing legal and technical deeds.
Created by the grandfather of its current leading associate, Yves Marchal, Marchal & Associés has been passed on from generation to generation. And although led by a man, the firm is comprised of an essentially female team, among whom is Anne-Sophie Vérité.
Within this ‘patriarchal’ family business, this young and dynamic lawyer, and mother, decided to give a shake to some old habits. In order to move on from traditional practice, still firmly attached to analogue techniques, she called upon Elindo to facilitate the transfer of dictations from lawyers to legal secretaries.
Shaping work from day to day
‘In our profession, we dictate a great deal in order to save time. If I had to type all my correspondence, there would never be enough hours in what are already quite short days. Given our hourly rates, I’m not sure that our clients would appreciate me spending my time typing, even if I am gradually gaining speed. Transcription also occupies a vast share of our time, which is absorbed by our secretaries.’
For a long time impervious to new technologies, the lawyers need tools that can facilitate the pooling and sharing of the many documents they produce. The key aim was to approach the digital transition that would allow them to alleviate the constantly strained workflow ensured by their secretaries. For, at Marchal & Associés, administration is not outsourced but entirely managed internally by its three legal secretaries.
In pursuit of greater recording capacity
Ms Vérité tells us that, during her professional activity, she dictates on a virtually permanent basis and at all stages. ‘In contrast with medical practitioners, who can draft more or less brief summaries, as lawyers, we have relatively long documents to dictate.’ She consequently dictates correspondence throughout the entire life cycle of a legal procedure. In other words, whenever a client comes to see her to discuss an issue, Ms Vérité creates a computer file after the appointment, dictates the file creation so that the secretary can enter the client’s personal details, and dictates the letter to be sent to the latter. Depending on how the case unfolds, she can request specific documents, dictate - if required - formal notices to send to the adverse party, dictate adverse documents and conclusions, or her own conclusions to send to her client, etc. Then, if legal proceedings require to be initiated, she can dictate summons and - throughout the entire procedure which lasts several months - responses to the adverse lawyer, who in turn will issue conclusions, etc… all of which are dictated to the legal secretaries for typing.
Secretaries are overwhelmed by the flow of dictations that result from the firm’s activity. They must consistently transcribe documents in line with the level of urgency dictated by lawyers and jurists.
In the case of an urgent dictation, I send it with a red indicator and I can monitor it by simply consulting the software, to find out when it has been dealt with and by which secretary.
Presently equipped with recorders that are connected to Philips SpeechExec Pro software, the law firm’s teams can now keep up with the flow of dictations in real time and without moving. Previously, dictation time was limited due to the number of tapes moving from lawyers’ offices to the secretarial department. Impromptu cassette shortages are a thing of the past, and the office can now increase recording time and capacity.
A global view of the ongoing workload
Philips’ SpeechExec Pro software enables dictations to be prioritised whenever large numbers are pending transcription. ‘So that our secretaries know the order in which they are to be typed, which is not necessarily the order in which they arrive, my associates and I can now add a short message to indicate if the dictation we are sending is to be dealt with immediately, within 24 hours, 48 hours, 3 days, 5 days, 10 days, etc.’
‘Nowadays, when I arrive at the office, I open my Philips software and I know exactly who dictated what, for what deadline and how it is progressing. For example, in the case of an urgent dictation, I send it with a red indicator and I can monitor it by simply consulting the software, to find out when it has been dealt with and by which secretary.’
The firm’s team of lawyers all dictate at a different pace. From one recorder to another, the number of dictations can vary up to threefold. Ms. Vérité has produced a total of 471 dictations on her recorder over the past two years, i.e. over 200 a year - a substantial volume that required adequate support for processing all generated files.
Solid bespoke assistance
The law firm has opted for Elindo’s assistance service, which means they can be called upon at the slightest hiccup. ‘From time to time, when we put down the recorder and the dictation doesn’t start - we stop everything - do nothing and simply call Elindo, for the last thing we want to do is to start all over again! If a problem arises, we benefit from a help line and everything always goes very smoothly!’ We no longer have any missed or lost dictations. With this new and effective organisation in place, Ms Vérité hopes to take things even further by adding voice recognition, despite an unconvincing first attempt. She concludes, ‘With support from Elindo, I’m sure we’ll make it!’
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