Legal Week's analysis of dictation systems (DDS) a year ago revealed a market that was still to be fully convinced that this technology is an absolute ‘must have’ for law firms. Indeed, the research showed that almost 40% of the top 100 firms had not embraced DDS in any form. Crucially, that statistic included all five of the magic circle firms — a statistic that no longer stands after Linklaters introduced digital dictation firm-wide.
DDS vendors have a difficult sales pitch. Their products deliver a more effective way of working rather than an obviously tangible ‘end product’ in the accepted sense. It is a means to an end, rather than an end in its own right. In addition, the various DDS offerings do not do anything fundamentally different from each other. Their products are capable of delivering tremendous flexibility, efficiency and cost savings, but they are also capable of delivering the same functionality as the analogue solutions they replaced unless accompanied by an understanding of the need to change working practices — a change that can only really be brought about by individual lawyers changing the way they work.
This means vendors must be able to clearly demonstrate achievable and measurable efficiency gains in advance, in order to prove that change is worthwhile. Yet efficiency improvements can be a double-edged sword, being perceived as unwelcome changes to routine or even job threats, so that the change DDS represents may not always be welcomed among those who are expected to use it. Our research certainly shows that more than one firm has tried and rejected DDS on the basis of staff negativity towards it.
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