April 03, 2019

Product Review

Jeffrey Allen


I have watched the evolution of voice-recognition technology (VRT) for the last dozen years with interest. I have reviewed any number of VRT programs, including the last several iterations of Dragon NaturallySpeaking (DNS). The quality of VRT has dramatically improved in that time period, and DNS emerged as the unquestioned leader of the pack.

The last several iterations of DNS satisfied me that VRT had reached “ready for prime time” status. Not surprisingly, each iteration bettered its predecessor. Ease of use improved, and the process of “training” the program (and its user) grew easier and faster with each version.

Early on I learned that the ability of a VRT program to handle standard dictation had little relevance to its ability to handle the niceties of legal citations. The folks at Dragon (now owned by Nuance) also figured that out and created a Legal version of the software. The Legal version, like the Medical version, used the same basic engine (DNS Professional) and added a specialized vocabulary to it. The specialized vocabulary improved the program’s ability to handle legal dictation of legal terminology and, in particular, legal citations. Each iteration of DNS Legal that I looked at demonstrated notable improvement over its predecessor. The current version does not buck that trend.

Understand that the legal vocabulary module does not offer anything that users could not do themselves. The catch is that the process of doing it takes effort and time. The valuation issue turns on what you consider your time worth. One of the smarter marketing decisions Nuance made was cutting the cost of the legal version by several hundred dollars. DNS 11 Legal will cost you $799.99, compared to the $599.99 cost of DNS 11 Professional. As the training process with DNS 11 Legal will take an hour or two less than with DNS 11 Professional, and as most attorneys charge more than enough for their time that the incremental savings translates to an hour or two of billable time, the decision should not prove difficult. If you want to get VRT, you should get DNS 11 Legal.

I still like the standard version of DNS for general dictation, but I find that it continues to trip over legal citations. Certainly, it does better with citations than it has in the past; but I keep hoping that the next version will solve the problem once and for all. Having DNS 11 Legal as your starting point will make it easier for you to finish the training process so that legal citations will come out in proper form consistently. If you train it correctly, you can get the software to the point where it handles general dictation extremely well, general dictation with legal terms very well, and citations adequately. Not perfect, but, all in all, not too shabby. The bottom line: I think that many (if not most) lawyers can benefit from having DNS 11 on their computers and using it. If you plan on using legal terminology and/or citations regularly in your dictation, spring for DNS 11 Legal.

Related: Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Professional; Voice-Recognition Technology for the Mac

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