General Practice, Solo & Small Firm DivisionMagazine

SUCCESS STORIES

Success Stories, a standing column of Technology and Practice Guide , explores how other solos or small firm lawyers have successfully integrated technology into their practices.
Robert A. Woodke practices in Bemidji, Minnesota.

If I were going to start a solo office my first two purchases would be Corel’s new WordPerfect Legal Suite Eight and a computer powerful enough to run it. The only major piece missing from this multifaceted application is a time and billing and accounting package.

I have been test-driving the new software through the course of the summer as time permits. While I have only scratched the surface of some of the applications, what I have experienced thus far has caused me to recommend the implementation of the software in our firm on an enterprisewide basis.

What you get with the Suite is the following software: First, the products from Corel include: Corel’s WordPerfect version 8, which is an elegant enhancement of prior versions; Quattro Pro 8, a powerful spreadsheet; Corel Presentations 8, the relational database Corel Paradox 8 and CorelCENTRAL, an information manager that is integrated with Netscape Communicator 4.04. But the fun doesn’t stop there. In addition you also get Amicus Attorney 2.8, a user friendly practice management program; HotDocs 4.1, the popular document assembly program; West Group’s CiteLink 1.0 that is integrated with WordPerfect to automatically generate a table of authorities and is also able to make hypertext links to the full text of a citation on the Web; and perhaps most exciting to solos and small firms is Dragon’s speech recognition program, Naturally Speaking. Corel has taken the headaches out of making all these tools work well together by creating an all in one box solution.

I am running the software on a 300 mhz computer with 128 mb RAM, a 6 Gigabyte harddrive, 32X CD-ROM, 56K Fax-Modem, a Creative Labs soundcard, and the Windows 95 operating system. This system cost me less than $2,000 when I purchased it in early summer and with the ongoing reductions in prices as newer chips are introduced, a system adequate to run this software is within the financial reach of anyone desiring to implement this solution. The minimum hardware requirements to run the Suite, including the voice recognition software, is a Windows 95 or NT 4.0 operating system, at least a 133 mhz Pentium processor 48 MB RAM, 110 MB of hard disk space, a CD-ROM drive and a 16 bit soundcard with specifications meeting or exceeding Creative Labs Soundblaster 16. If you want to run this on a laptop you may need additional hardware and I suggest you contact either Corel or Dragon Systems to be sure your hardware is up to the task. WWW.corel.com and www.naturallyspeaking.com are their Websites.

This is a cost-effective solution for any lawyer interested in having a computer that is more than a glorified typewriter. The Suite is priced at $449 (suggested retail) for the full version or $229 for an upgrade or competitive upgrade version. Street prices are somewhat lower as I write this in early September. This is a tremendous value compared to acquiring all these software packages separately.

The following paragraphs are my first outing with the voice recognition software with no changes to the way the program recognized my voice.

Voice dictation

Shades of Star Trek! I am talking to a computer! It is following the invoice commands to produce this article. This is DragonDictate’s contribution to the Corel Suite 8 legal edition.

I am writing this article using the newer WordPerfect Suite 8 with a DragonDictate NaturallySpeaking word processor engaged. These are the first sentences that I have dictated with the program after completing the initial installation and training.

As I write this paragraph I am only begun the process of training and using NaturallySpeaking software. Even though I am a novice as you can see by this sidebar, which is produced just as it was dictated, without any editorial corrections being made to the original dictation product, the results are gratifying.

When it came to installing the DragonDictate software the third time is a charm saying was entirely true. The actual installation onto the hard drive was uneventful and perceive it automatically. When I initially tried to utilize a software it was not able to function adequately with a sound card provided in the computer. To hardware upgrades corrected this problem. The first upgrade was the installation of age creative labs sound card can. The second hardware changing was that I upgraded to a better quality headset microphone than the one provided with the software. These changes were effective in providing a sound quality which was compatible with word recognition software. With the hardware now ready to function properly with DragonDictate I commenced the process of giving the software up and running. Per

The first anywhere required to do is to set the settlement environment of the microphone and headset. With that accomplish you are required to read the short set of three paragraphs to permit the software to Iraqi guys and adapt to your voice. After this is accomplished you are asked to read a selection of paragraphs approximately 30 minutes in length to train the software to recognize your speech patterns and voice acoustical features.

To the When our first attempted to accomplish this I was thwarted by a set of error codes which meant little or nothing to be. I suspected that the restart was in order so I close to software, close to Windows 95, a Henry started. My second effort was sparsely rewarded as I was allowed to complete reading D. paragraphs successfully, a but processing the recognition into the general training feature did not go forward. For some reason the computer locked up about halfway through the process. This necessitated a second restart, but my third attempt came off without itching and I was able to dictate the words and paragraphs UC now.

What I actually said:

Voice dictation

Shades of Star Trek! I am talking to a computer! It is following uh* voice commands to produce this article. This is DragonDictate’s contribution to the Corel Suite 8 legal edition.

I am writing this article using the new er* WordPerfect Suite 8 with ah* DragonDictate NaturallySpeaking word processor engaged. These are the first sentences that I have dictated with the program after completing the initial installation and training.

As I write this paragraph I have only begun the process of training and using NaturallySpeaking software. Even though I am a novice as you can see by this sidebar, which is produced just as it was dictated, without any editorial corrections being made to the original dictation product, the results are gratifying.

When it came to installing the DragonDictate software the third time is a charm saying was entirely true. The actual installation onto the hard drive was uneventful and proceeded automatically. When I initially tried to utilize the software it was not able to function adequately with a sound card provided in the computer. Two hardware upgrades corrected this problem. The first upgrade was the installation of a Creative Labs sound card and the second hardware change was that I upgraded to a better quality headset microphone than the one provided with the software. These changes were effective in providing a sound quality which was compatible with word recognition software. With the hardware now ready to function properly with DragonDictate I commenced the process of getting the software up and running. Per*

The first item any one is required to do is to set the sound environment of the microphone and headset. With that accomplished you are required to read the short set of three paragraphs to permit the software to recognize and adapt to your voice. After this is accomplished you are asked to read a selection of paragraphs approximately 30 minutes in length to train the software to recognize your speech patterns and voice acoustical features.

When I first attempted to accomplish this I was thwarted by a set of error codes which meant little or nothing to me. I suspected that a restart was in order so I closed the software, closed Windows 95, and restarted. My second effort was partially rewarded as I was allowed to complete reading three paragraphs successfully, ah* but processing the recognition into the general training feature did not go forward. For some reason the computer locked up about halfway through the process. This necessitated a second restart, but my third attempt came off without a hitch and I was able to dictate the words and paragraphs you see now.

The voice dictation software section set out above shows you the capability of Dragon Naturally Speaking fresh out of the box. While it obviously did not correctly recognize everything I said, I must confess some of the errors were the result of my dictation habits while others were the software’s lack of recognition. As I have worked with it further, my ability to clean up my bad dictation habits and its ability to recognize my speech has increased and errors have been reduced. This solution will be of special benefit in solo and small offices where the limited number of staff members presents the inherent problems of covering absences and getting work out when vacations, sickness, and other absences occur. Speech recognition is finally beginning to realize its promise. No longer do you have to pause between each word for the software to work. I dictated the material in this article just as I might use a dictation machine.

The documentation that comes with the software is exhaustive but for people like me who find reading large manuals a pain (not to mention enormously time-consuming) the 112-page Legal Features Guide gave me almost everything I needed to be up and running promptly.

With the release of WordPerfect Suite 8 Legal Edition, Corel has set the bar very high. No competitor comes close to the one-stop shopping solution for lawyers that this product represents. The WordPerfect commitment to serving the legal community is spotlighted by this excellent product. n

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