Thoughts on Dictation

As a lawyer I rely a lot on dictation. When I first started practicing, I found it to be very unnatural. They do not teach it in lawschool. It was only later in my career that I discovered what a great tool it is.

When I use the term “dictation” I am not talking about AI “speech-to-text” transcription - that can be useful too, but I’m talking about getting live audio to my secretary who can not only transcribe the text, but follow complex directions, and even give me reminders if I miss something. She controls the playback with a foot pedal.

I did get a copy of the “legal” version of Nuance Dragon, hoping it would help give my secretary a “head start” on transcription. Not impressed. I will say the speech-to-text accuracy was very good. But it is very expensive and takes significant amounts of time to configure and train. Even getting over that hurdle, the software itself was just abysmal. Confusing UI, resource hog, and really unstable. I’ll stick to the integrated voice-to-text options for my quick emails, thanks.

For real dictation, I currently use a “tried and true” Olympus DS-5000 and the accompanying software. The dictaphone is good. The software is functional but clunky. I have tried iPhone apps but the physical switch on the dictaphone is really useful. I have also tried Express Dictate by NCH. Slightly better UI but less functional than the Olympus software.

I would really like a fresh take on dictation software. Anyone else using it?

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Ruling on the MRTMA

Interesting case on behalf of the City today. Clerk rejected an initative petition to establish a recreational marijuana ordinance because it did not contains sufficient signatures under City charter. The petitioners relied on the MRTMA, which states: “Individuals may petition to initiate an ordinance to provide for the number of marihuana establishments allowed within a municipality or to completely prohibit marihuana establishments within a municipality, and such ordinance shall be submitted to the electors of the municipality at the next regular election when a petition is signed by qualified electors in the municipality in a number greater than 5% of the votes cast for governor by qualified electors in the municipality at the last gubernatorial election.”

Judge ruled that the MRTMA only authorizes an initiative petition where the proposed ordinance either (1) establishes the number of marijuana facilities or (2) outright prohibits facilities. Anything else proposed (fees, regulation, land use restrictions, etc. ) must follow procedures in the city charter. He also found that the statute does not permit such a petition where the municipality has already taken action. To do so would not “initiate” a new ordinance but repeal an existing.

Will be interesting to see how other courts read the MRTMA.