General Practice, Solo & Small Firm DivisionSolo Newsletter

American Bar Association
General Practice, Solo, and Small Firm Division



Reduce Your Staffing Needs with Technology

by Mary L. Bryant

Rethinking your practice can mean a change not only in your client base but also in your pocketbook. Until you build up your practice to the size that you want, you may find you will have to get by with less office staff. Or perhaps you’re looking to reduce your staffing needs permanently. One option is voice recognition software.

Voice recognition software can be a boom or a bust, depending on how patient you are. The cost of the software can range anywhere from $50 to more than $200, depending on how many words your computer will come to understand. A microphone may be included with the software or you may have to purchase one separately.

After you load the software onto your computer, you will speak into the microphone, listing a number of words and phrases so that the computer can become familiar with the intonation of your voice. This is where patience is a virtue. But your faith that humans are smarter than machines will be restored. In the beginning, the software may confuse words that sound similar, so be prepared to tinker with the program until the computer understands exactly what you are saying.

Once you and your computer come to speaking terms, voice recognition software can be a time saver. Instead of sitting at the keyboard, you can have your hands free for other tasks while you speak into your microphone. Also, if you’re like most lawyers, you can speak considerably faster than you can type. You’ll be amazed at how many more letters you will be able to get out in a day.

Voice recognition software requires a relatively small capital investment, and will certainly pay for itself in time savings.

Mary L. Bryant is a sole practitioner in Austin, Texas, and associate editor of Solo.


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