My Philips 9350 portable digital recorder fundamentally changes the way I practice law. Many people can’t really contemplate carrying a portable digital recorder around all the time. Even I sometimes laugh thinking about the geek standing in the corner doing a "memo to self" in his portable dictation device. On The Sopranos last night, Junior’s cancer doctor went to instruct his secretary to call Junior, by dictating a memo in his digital recorder. Tony smacked the recorder out of his hand and, without saying anything more, let the doctor know he’d better call Junior himself.
I don’t spend a lot of time dictating in public, or in front of other people. But when I get up in the morning, there are at least three things bothering me about one or more of my cases. There are questions that are rumbling around in my head for which I don’t have answers. Those questions become tasks or messages in our client extranet because I immediately pick up my digital recorder and assign tasks which will get me answers. The chance that I would "move the ball" on those issues once I got into the office inundated with distraction is incredibly small.
I often say that I do the work of three attorneys. This is probably true. And while I work hard and put in a lot of miscellaneous hours when I’m not in my office, it also has personal benefits as well.
Let’s face it. We all get anxious when we know things need to happen in cases and those issues are not being handled. We only have so much time in day. We’re only in our office so many hours.
The ability to pick up a portable dictation device and solve a problem, pose a question or provide information is a huge relief. If I dictate three research tasks before getting into bed at night, I don’t have to lie there worrying about them. I know that dictation will be uploaded into the extranet in the morning and I will likely have answers shortly thereafter.
I’ve always said that the practice of law is simply about identifying important questions and obtaining answers. Sometimes I refer to this approach as putting the lawyer in the position of "coach and quarterback." Digital dictation in tandem with our extranet allows me to be the coach and quarterback for all the members of our team. This includes our internal workers and our remote virtual workers. It also includes the clients. So take those questions and thoughts rambling around between your ears and turn them into action items at a moments notice. You’ll feel better. And your client will receive the value they deserve.