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Taming your Dragon

I have a secret to share with you: I use speech recognition software to dictate all of these blog posts. I also use the software for certain translations and most of my email correspondence. If you already use Dragon NaturallySpeaking by Nuance, you already know what I'm speaking about (sorry, I'm prone to puns). If you haven't heard of it, or you are considering using it in your legal practice, you will want to read on.

As far as I am aware, speech recognition technology became widely available to the public in the 1990s, and used to be much more primitive. Now, you probably use it on your smartphone in the form of Siri or Google's assistant. The difference with Dragon is that you talk to it—it doesn't talk to you.

Rather, Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a program that listens to what you say and then writes it out for you. It is compatible with most Windows applications, and is not restricted to just typing. You can also control the mouse, and with the professional version, write macros that will simulate keystrokes and help you with mundane tasks. Dragon can also recognize dictation. You can feed it with an audio recording that you dictated, and churn out a reasonable transcript. Of course, there are times when you can use it, and other occasions when it is not helpful.

Note: Don't fire your secretary when you purchase Dragon; it won't replace her.


  • Dictate in the neighborhood of 120 words per minute. Do more work in less time, freeing you up for other tasks.

  • Since it takes less effort to dictate than it does to type, I, for one, and more motivated to produce more content.

  • Write more like you speak, giving you a friendlier tone.

  • Take your eyes off the screen. With a wireless headset, you can even get up and stretch while you're dictating.

  • Virtually no typos. Dragon is equipped with a vocabulary of thousands of words, and you can add words to it as you see fit.

  • It has a legal version with specialized law terms included.


  • Not fit for academic papers or text that requires a lot of trips to the reference materials. You need to be fairly spontaneously when dictating. If you dictate individual words, Dragon probably will not understand them, as it is programmed to take on larger chunks of speech.

  • Although it does not produce typos, it does confuse words like two and too. Since it is not human, it has no way of discerning the difference. This means that you have to be attentive to any misused words.

All in all, I think that this is an application that you should try out, because as law professionals, you produce a lot of information, and you will enjoy the time and effort saved through doing so. A good place to buy Dragon NaturallySpeaking and other third-party applications is Knowbrainer. The customer service is excellent, and they have a forum where you can discuss your problems and request solutions.

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