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Speech Recognition for Legal Professionals

Documentation is an essential function in a law office. It needs to be accurate, but does it need to be time consuming and expensive? Increasingly, attorneys and other personnel in law offices are discovering the efficiencies of speech recognition software.

What does speech recognition software do?

  • Speech recognition software is relatively inexpensive, simple to use, works on any recent vintage Windows-based pc, and allows rapid creation of text using voice in virtually all common word processing and report-generating programs.

  • Speech recognition software allows simple command and control functionality within a computer which can streamline computer based functions both in the office and while on the road

  • Use of simple-to-create "commands" or macros allows insertion of commonly used text with a simple voice command

  • Use of advanced commands allows a voice command to initiate complex, computer multi-step processes.

See it in Action

Sometimes "seeing is believing". See how a law firm in Boston, Mass has used speech recognition software to improve officer productivity.


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Getting Started

Hardware (Computer):

1. A relatively recent vintage computer (either laptop or desktop) is needed. The bare bones requirements are a Windows based PC with the specifications shown below. If your officer intends to create reports while on the road or already has a good quality laptop, a laptop computer will be far more practical than a desktop unit. In general, faster processors are associated with better performance in terms of speed, but not necessarily any difference in accuracy. At least 2 MB of RAM is recommended.

  • CPU: minimum 1 GHz Intel® Pentium® or equivalent AMD processor or 1.66 GHz Intel® Atom® processor. We recommend 1.8 GHz Intel Dual Core or equivalent AMD processor.
  • Processor Cache: minimum 512 KB. We recommend 2 MB.
  • Free hard disk space: 2.5 GB (2.8 GB for localized non-English versions)

2. A good quality microphone: Dragon NaturallySpeaking is packaged with a starter microphone which will give reasonable results and we recommend that you start with this microphone when making an assessment as to whether speech recognition software is a workable solution for you or your department. If it works, though, but accuracy isn't quite to the level you expect, then we suggest that you consider upgrading to a better microphone. Some of our favorites include:

  • Sennheiser ME3/Andrea USB combo: this is a wired microphone that wraps around the back of the head and does not include speakers. It interfaces with the computer via any available USB port. This microphone gives better accuracy and provides better external noise rejection than any other microphone we sell. Cost is about $182.
  • Andrea NC 181VM-USB: this microphone represents a step up from the microphone packaged with the software, but is considerably less expensive.


We recommend only one version of Dragon software for attorneys - the full legal version. Reason for this is that only the legal version has the extensive legal dictionary and this version is the only one which will result in high levels of accuracy in legal documentation. The legal version is demonstrated in the flash video above, and is described in detail below.


Although accuracy is amazingly good out of the box, users will definitely benefit from time getting to know the software and being trained on its extensive functionality. There are several ways in which this can happen:

  • USER GUIDE: Virtually everything can be learned by reading the User Guide, but this is often a slow and laborious process which may excessively time consuming for the average user. View user guide.

  • DVD TRAINING: Several DVD teaching series are available. We recommend that you visit our Training Page to see some of these products.

  • PERSONALIZED TRAINING: We offer personalized training via the internet which can be set up at a convenient time and which is charged at an hourly rate of $100. For the average user, 1-2 hours of training will give them a good start. We would consider this a last resort for most situations and recommend the above methods first. For information on personalized training, please contact

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Legal

Increasingly law firms (both large and small), as well as corporate legal departments, are balancing the challenges created by the economy by leveraging speech recognition. Dragon NaturallySpeaking speeds and streamlines document creation, email management, and even data entry for time and billing systems. Simply put, most lawyers can talk faster than they can type.

  • Speed document turnaround
  • Reduce transcription costs
  • Increase efficiency and profitability
  • All without having to change current business processes


  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking Legal offers a preconfigured legal vocabulary that includes over 30,000 legal-specific terms, and it automatically formats legal citations. Reduce dependencies on support staff or improve transcription turnaround time with enhanced third-party correction features.
  • Use Dragon Voice Shortcuts to quickly search for information on the Web or on your own computer. Just say “Search the Web for global warming articles,” “Search Amazon for the Harvard Blue Book,” or “Search maps for office supply stores near Chicago, Illinois.” You can even say “Find an email about the Robinson appeal” to quickly locate information on your computer. Searching the Web or your computer has never been faster — or easier.
  • Send emails or schedule meetings on the fly: From any active window, a user can send an email to selected contact(s) with a single voice command. Dragon will launch your email program, create a new email and put the names you said into the “To:” box. Need to schedule a meeting with a select group of contacts? Just say “Schedule a meeting with [contact distribution list name],” and Dragon will do the rest.

Included in the box:

  • Software disk
  • Starter Microphone (full version only)
Dragon 12 Legal
Full Version
Upgrade from 10 or 11 Legal
Upgrade from Professional
Upgrade from Premium


Microphones for use with Dragon Legal

Be aware that the full version of Dragon Legal is bundled with a $10 microphone that is neither comfortable nor particularly accurate. Please consider this a starter microphone or "proof of concept" device. For truly high levels of accuracy and for more effective external noise rejection, consider any of the following microphones sold on our site. Likewise, if you are upgrading to Dragon Legal, you should consider upgrading your microphone for better performance.

Best Wired Microphone: Looking for the highest quality wired microphone? Money not a major limitation? See Microphones for Advanced Users and consider any of the following:

  • Sennheiser ME3: this is our personal favorite and probably not a coincident, the best selling microphone on our site. It's also our least returned product. We recommend the "combo" that comes with the Andrea Pure Audio MA USB adapter for reliable excellent results.
  • Audio-Technica Pro 8HEmV: this mic is solid competion for the ME3 and a bit less expensive, but for many a bit less comfortable given that it mounts with pressure pads pushing against the temple.
  • UmeVoice theBoom "O" (single ear) or "C" (both ears). The UmeVoice mics have an amazing microphone element this is nearly the match of the ME3, although these are clearly not built with the reliabilty/durability of the ME3 or 8HEmV.

Best Wireless Microphone with simultaneous wired telephone use: Looking for the best wireless microphone that can also be used with your wired telephone? Pick the Sennheiser SD Pro-1 (one speaker) or SD Pro-2 (two speakers). Sennheiser knows how to do it right and these are the mics that sit on OUR desks. We love them!

Best Wireless Microphone for computer use only: If you absolutely need bluetooth, consider the VXI Xpress. We should warn you, though, BlueTooth can be trickly and we get a lot of returns on virtually every Bluetooth device we sell. For a high quality wireless headset microphone which is also great for listening to music and that works on a "plug-and-play" basis (no connection issues), consider the Andrea WNC 1500.

Best hand-held mic for use with Dragon:

  • If you using the medical version of Dragon and looking for the convenience of a hand-held microphone with programmable buttons? Get the Dictaphone PowerMic II. To use this with Dragon Legal you will need Octopus USB controller to allow programming of buttons.
  • If you are using a non-medical version of Dragon, you can use the PowerMic II described above if you combine it with Octopus USB controller. Otherwise consider the use of Philips SpeechMike Premium (wired with USB interface) or the SpeechMike Air (wireless with base connecting via USB)

Best Desktop Microphone: Want a high quality desktop microphone without a lot of complications? Choose the Speechware 3-in-1, 6-in-1 or 9-in-1 Tablemike (see "Desktop Microphones").

Best Microphone for the Notebook User: For the mobile user that needs an easily transportable microphone that is highly accurate and noise canceling and that neither needs to be held or worn, we highly recommend the SpeechWare TravelMike.



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