Speak Legalese to Your Computer & It Might Just Understand You

I have been toying with purchasing Dragon Naturally Speaking. I just love the idea of pacing back and forth, turning to my computer and bossing it around, ordering it to perform tasks without being tied to the keyboard, mouse or glide point. I have held off to date due to the cost of the program and my uncertainty as to whether it would work for my particular situation.

ABA Law Practice Today has an article by Rodney Dowell about a new version of Naturally Speaking that is particularly attuned to legal professionals. Dragon Naturally Speaking 10 Legal gets a thumbs up from Dowell, who was skeptical due to his questionable results with Version 9 Preferred. I haven’t used the program yet, so I cannot review it. But I can encourage you to hit the jump above, as Dowell puts a lot of detail into his review of this new and improved tool.

That law degree doesn’t come cheap. While Version 10 Preferred can be had for around the $150 range, Version 10 Legal ranges between $749 and $1,299. A key difference is the ability to dictate in Outlook and PowerPoint. The “legal” comes from the software coming pre-configured with legal vocabulary – nearly 30,000 legal terms – and the ability to format legal citations.

To summarize Dowell’s findings, here is his parting quote:

If you will only dictate in Word or WordPerfect buy Dragon Preferred. For me, however, the power of dictating to a computer lies in my ability to move across applications, work in Outlook and deal with e-mails, create macros and custom vocabularies, and the ability to create templates. This ability to broadly use the product across multiple applications is what makes the Dragon Legal edition a worthy purchase, especially at the lower price points.

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2 comments on “Speak Legalese to Your Computer & It Might Just Understand You

  1. Naturally Speaking is a great product and a great technology. Subject to voice strain limitations, it is a miracle for people who cannot type for any reason. For me though, Rodney McDowell’s comment regarding proof reading is the most critical aspect. I haven’t used the program in several years, so this comment may not be accurate for the present versions discussed by Rodney, but while I found it to be very fast, and fairly accurate, it had a tendency to drop or miss small words. In legal writing, small words like “not” can make a world of difference, and I found that the additional time necessary to flyspeck and correct the copy took longer than my slow typing. That is not to say that I make no mistakes when I type. In addition, a missing “not” will not be caught by any spell checker either. The difference is that I do not make those meaning critical mistakes (dropping a “not”) when I type, with the same frequency that I found in using older versions of DNS, and I can usually trust that my meaning has been conveyed with careful typing and a spell check.

    If the new versions of DNS have addressed this point, then for me, its time for a second look.

  2. Precisely my concern – I wonder how much extra work one would need to put in to get the “convenience” of voice control. I use Vlingo voice control on my iPhone but not for drafting. Dowdell does give 10 Legal much better marks for accuracy, so maybe the scales are tipped in favor of its value rather than its cost.

    If you decide to give it a try, I would love to hear what you think.



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