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Multi-site law firm becomes cloud efficient

The facts

The customer
Commins Hendriks Solicitors, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia
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Philips partner
PDT Digital Pty Ltd
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The solution
SpeechLive Cloud Dictation Solution
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Commins Hendriks Solicitors is a large law firm based in the Riverina region of New South Wales, Australia. The law firm was established in 1992 after the merger of two large law firms dating back to 1902.

Their aim is to provide quality legal advice and fair representation to their clients, both national businesses and private individuals, covering diversified legal areas like business, property, litigation, family and estates among others. The law firm has their main office in Wagga Wagga for their city and country clients, as well as branches in five other locations catering to the needs of the clients based in regional areas. 

One virtual office

Being spread across several locations has been a challenge for Commins Hendriks. Their former dictation and transcription system did not allow them to be flexible as they were struggling to find a solution that supports location independent working and distribution of the workload between the offices to operate at maximum capacity and efficiency. Philips SpeechLive, the cloud-based dictation system, was the perfect solution for them. 

“The problem we were having with the former system was that it was specific to one work location. Since we have 70 employees around several different offices, the moment an author or typist or any transcriptionist went to another location other than their assigned one, it was a big drama for them to be able to use it.”, says Lesley Lashbrook, Personal Assistant to the CEO. 

Philips SpeechLive allows users to dictate on their smartphone or from the web browser and manage those dictations in the cloud, hosted on an Australian server, virtually from anywhere without being constrained to a computer. 

For us, SpeechLive has delivered the flexibility we were after by enabling all staff to retrieve any dictation, irrespective of which office they are sitting in. There is no paper, and most importantly no time delay.”

Philip McInstosh
Chief Executive Officer, Commins Hendriks Solicitors

Lesley summarizes, “The whole set-up makes it more efficient for us. Because we have a lot of satellite offices, we have a practice management system that everyone can create and access documents. So, if one of our authors at Wagga Wagga sends out an email asking for typing availability, and someone in Canberra puts up their hand informing of their capacity, then we will instantly give them access to that author’s work. It doesn’t matter where anyone is located since they can access it straight away.” 
Philip McIntosh, Chief Executive Officer, also adds, “There is a surge of law firms migrating to cloud in recent times. For us, SpeechLive has delivered the flexibility we were after by enabling all staff to retrieve any dictation, irrespective of which office they are sitting in. There is no paper, and most importantly no time delay.”

Optimized resources

Commins Hendriks core team consists of 25 professional staff comprising of Accredited Specialists, Senior Legal Practitioners, Law Clerks and Paralegals. The rest of their huge team is made up with support staffs. Despite being such a big law firm, they allow employees to have flexible work arrangements including working from home during maternity or carer leaves. While they were on their old work system, unavailability of any of their trained staff meant seeking casuals to support whenever they experienced a spike in work load. Philip explains, “Because we have flexible work arrangements we have staff that work from home sometimes, it was expensive to arrange individual software and license for staffs’ home computers. But with SpeechLive, they log in online to access the dictation files. This has contributed to a faster turnaround of work.”

Lesley further added, “Finding casual typists is very difficult and time consuming as they need training. We have several support staff who are on maternity leave and sometimes they can offer us a few hours a day to help us. They have the expertise in our organization to do their work well and efficiently. All that they need is the headset and plug in the foot pedal, and away they go.”
Philips SpeechLive also gives lawyers the option to send their dictation file to a transcription service. After the dictation is sent to a professional industry-specific transcriptionist, the author receives the document within 24 hours via email. The other option that can be used is the SpeechLive speech recognition service which is ideal for short recordings as it returns the text document almost immediately. Philip and Lesley both expressed their interests on the voice recognition speech-to-text solution. 

Smooth transition 

Lesley explained that they have two generations of work force at Commins Hendriks, and despite the age gap SpeechLive was easy to adopt. “Our younger professionals didn’t have a problem at all. Since we provide mobile devices as part of their remuneration package, they can easily download the SpeechLive app on their smartphones and create dictation documents straightaway. Our more experienced lawyers on the other hand were keen to keep their dictation device. With Philips SpeechExec Pro Dictation and Transcription software we were able to get the same benefits of SpeechLive while using their existing devices.”  When it came to the support staff, she added that it was a seamless transition for them as all the tools were similar to their old set-up, including the foot pedal, headphone and the screen. 

Lesley further added that since everything these days is cloud based, it was easier for them to incorporate from an admin perspective. With the older system, it was time consuming as she had to spend time going from one computer to the other to manage the daily workflow. With SpeechLive she said, “Now I don’t have to worry about the dictation downloading from the app. Previously dictation was transferred from device to typist via email and if someone had out-of-office ticked on their email or even if their email wasn’t opened then the synchronization process wouldn’t work.” 

Consultancy and support

Having six satellite offices requires troubleshooting and maintenance support from time to time which Lesley struggled with the older system Commins Hendriks was using. It took a lot of her time trying to troubleshoot issues over the phone. Currently, they work with PDT Digital, a Philips certified partner and Lesley was all praise for Peter Thomas. 

Lesley stated, “Peter is really approachable and I don’t ever feel not inclined to call him, however small my issue is. We done have an on-site IT-trained person but with his support we could get the new system up and running in no time. Whenever I need a new SpeechLive license, I just email him and it’s there within an hour. We buy our hardware from him as well.”

The solution

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