#010: Andrea Cannavina on “Upgrading to a Digital Workflow” [Podcast]

Craig talks with Andrea Cannavina, the Legal Typist, about best practices for moving to a digital workflow.

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Andrea on Twitter: @LegalTypist or @AndreaCan

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Craig:              This
is Legal Leaders podcast, episode 10, with Craig Huggart/Andrea Cannavina on
“Upgrading to a Digital Work Flow”

Craig:              Hello
and welcome to Legal Leaders podcast. Today’s guest is Andrea Cannavina, she is
CEO of Legal Typist. I love following her on Twitter and I’m anxious to hear
what she has to say. So Andrea How are you doing?

Andrea:           Alright!
I’m doing very well today. Thank you so much for inviting me to be on the show.

Craig:              Well,
so glad we could finally get together, we’ve chat a lot on Twitter but this the
first time I’ve actually talked to you.

Andrea:           Yes
it is and you know what, as we’ve spoken before, once you kind of connect on
Twitter, you kind of get to know each other a little bit so I already feel like
we’re old friends.

Craig:              Well
that’s great. Well before we get into today’s topic, I wanted to let everyone
know that as usual we have two short features after the main topic: Law firm
Laughs and Today’s Tech Tip. So as we get started, why don’t you tell us more
about yourself and work you do.

Andrea:           Okay,
for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Andrea Cannavina, I am known as
a virtual assistant. I’ve been a virtual assistant since 2001 when I opened up
my practice, Legal Typist, [inaudible] www.legaltypist.com and I started – It was myself, a few local and
a few national attorneys and I started to grow and I started researching the
tech. I’ve always been interested in the tech and making sure that the work
flow that I put in place for the attorneys that entrusts my services is
absolutely as secure as I possibly can be, so I’ve always been investigating
the tech as it’s been developing through the years. So with that in mind, I
help attorneys upgrade to a digital work flow and Legal Typists does everything
from helping solos with their day to day secretarial work all the way up to
providing very specialized legal transcription services for multiple attorney

Craig:              Well
great! So talk a bit about the process that is the topic for today of how to
move to a digital work flow.

Andrea:           Okay,
well first I want to let everybody know that there is not one way to do everything
so if you’re trying to force people to standardize to a certain, set we can
make recommendations for people but ultimately, I think as a law firm trainer,
you can confirm that if the people aren’t going to adopt the tech then it
doesn’t matter what you put in place or how much money you throw at it. So if
you start to think of standardization more in terms of process versus
application, which would be the application being what’s running the process
itself and you can give a little individualization to the people on the devices
or on the ways they choose to connect and you just make sure that the ways that
they’re connecting are secure then you will much more likely get adoption of
whatever process it is that you’re trying to upgrade.

Craig:              Got
you! So can you tell us just – Maybe give us an example of one way that did
work – That worked pretty smoothly where you moved people to the kind of work
flow we’re talking about.

Andrea:           Okay,
well the first one that absolutely comes to mind is the first one that I
upgraded and that upgrading  tape-based
to dictation to digital because it’s really one of the easiest processes to
upgrade. Unfortunately what happened in the interim of tapes going digital was
computers and personal computers coming on the scene, attorneys now starting to
draft while they are typing, different ways of actually getting the work
product out the door for law firms developed and kind of over shadowed
dictation as the standardized tool. That’s a shame because dictation is
certainly much faster than even typing for somebody who types as fast as I do
because even though I type very fast, I talk obviously much faster. So with
that in mind, I still went for tape-based dictations to digital because I
thought it was the easiest process to upgrade, it was already a known process,
it was something that already saw a technological advance that far outweighed
any investment in capital amount was when I went from human being taking the
dictations to going to recorded dictations, that was many – Couple of decades
ago but it did actually did a huge jump in productivity, overall, for
everybody. Attorneys didn’t have to have their secretaries in their room,
secretaries didn’t have to take the time actually to do the dictation, and
since it was recorded, they could intersperse whatever was on the tape and the
directions and the documents throughout the course of their day while they’re
answering phones and doing all the multitude of other tasks that an actual
legal secretary takes care of during the day. So I just figured it would be a
natural leap but unfortunately with the over-shadowing of personal computing, it
was not. The beauty of upgrading from tape-based to dictation to digital is the
actual end users don’t have to do anything different. The only difference is
instead of them getting up from their seat to place the tape on their
secretary’s chair, they dock their recorder to a little holder on their desk
and they hear, and they know that their secretary has been notified that there
is a file pending for her to take care of, so it’s [inaudible 00:05:45] to me
that the most recent stat that I have, which is just from the beginning I
believe of this year, is that 57% of law firms that utilize dictations still
dictates tape. I want to know where they’re getting all the tapes from; they’ve
stopped making them 5 years ago.

Craig:              Yeah
that is amazing.

Andrea:           So
that is one of my favorite processes to help firms upgrade and the benefits on
the other side of it are – They’re pretty astounding. By upgrading properly,
you can just do an upgrade to an in-house solution. You can purchase all of the
equipment your staff will need. The recorders, the people doing the
transcribing will need foot pedals and headsets as well instead of there being
a machine on their desk – Which we all know they break a lot because the
mechanics of it all is actually quite strenuous on a piece of equipment, so
they get software instead. You can consider upgrading each person that you’re
upgrading, whether that’s a staff member doing the transcribing or it’s an
attorney or work producer doing the dictating. In between three and five
hundred dollars per user for an in-house solution before you get to the network
part of it if you were to go to an in-house server solution that you would then
pay licensing and then have to purchase as well to do the routing of everything
through the network. So it not a little investment for a law firm looking to
upgrade to digital dictation but it does, even with that much of an investment
on their part, upgrade the  process
enough to make it a good reason for them to do it. Now my service Legal Typist
helps law firms  upgrade without having
to do any of that because we provide a cloud-based option for upgrading the
digital dictating part whether or not that’s outsourcing adding to it or not.

Craig:              Sure,
well tell us a little bit more about that and about your service.

Andrea:           Okay,
well Legal Typist, like I’ve said, it actually kind of breaks down to firm
price. If you’re a multiple attorney firm, then that means you have a legal
administrator IT department managing partner of these things. Those are the
types of people that I speak with in order to get them upgraded generally wants
their upgrade, we take initial draft transcription off of in-house personnel
because that’s where we see the most dramatic change, when you take one hour of
recorded dictation off of an in-house person to do, you free up two to three
and a half hours of time for that person to now be concentrating on other
things. So that’s why initial draft transcription is one of the best things for
larger firms to actually outsource but you have to be careful who you outsource
to, you can’t just pick any service and some of the service, even if they do
pass the tests and privacy, snuffle test – I like to give everything – You
still have to worry about the quality of the returned product. If you end up
paying your people to fix and format, then you’re not really getting the best
bank for your buck and might want to work to a different service provider. For
solos, Legal Typist provides an office, administration, secretarial service
than just the initial draft transcription. We do their initial drafts, we take
care of every type of legal document, we know what the formatting is, we save
templates and samples of each client individually, only accessible to the
people who are assigned to be able to see that firm’s work. Then from all of
that, we’re able to do much more detailed work, inputting a form, opening new
client matters, and once we have the work flow that is where we start adding on
the different tech. If the client wants help with call and fax management
services then we put the tech in place for that. If the client wants assistance
with web-based document management then we assist for that. If a client wants
us to work their web-based practice management solution then we do that. So
it’s really a very customizable service we’re able to offer to each solo as
well as very customizable transcription service that we offer to the larger

Craig:              It
sounds like it could really be a good fit for a lot of firms because when I
look around the secretaries out there most of them seemed to just be
overwhelmed with work but the firms are not going to add more secretaries, in
fact it’s headed the other way so maybe your service would be an alternative to
adding a secretary or having that secretary just be so stressed, she doesn’t
have the time to do some of the things she needs to.

Andrea:           When
I left working in real life, I worked at [inaudible00:10:13] level boutique,
very high end, people, attorneys that I work for and practice that are very
large and I understood already that we have gone from a 2:1 ratio to a 3,
generally it would be a partner and two
with their junior partners or associates or somebody with them be tagged
on and by time I left part-time – Because I was on call for one of my equity
partners – He would just call out of the blue and say “I need you for four
hours in the next two days.” and I would find him. When I was doing that I
realized they were going up to four and five – And I think the problem and the
disconnect is the software salesmen were convincing the partners or the
decision makers that if you upgrade to a certain tech, you’re going to increase
efficiency so much that these people are going to have all of these – It’s
going to make everything easier on everyone but what they didn’t count for is
the fact that unless these processors are used to their fullest and properly,
it actually makes more work for the people on the bottom because they have to
fix everything, for instance, attorneys are typing all of their own stuff,
they’re not proofreading, they’re not formatting. When it gets placed on the secretary’s
desk, instead of it being something she knows is ready for final, she has to go
through that thing and clean it, which takes hours. So while they thought it’s
faster to not hire another staff member to type the attorney’s document from
scratch, technically they’re paying their higher end staff who’s been around
longer, so they’re generally a much more higher hourly rate, to fix stuff. They
could just give that to a word processing department or somebody to do that
initial draft instead and save themselves so much time in the end, and actually
get a cleaner document but I won’t even go into attorneys who contact me with
documents that are hundreds of pages long that are block copies from multiple
different documents and forces and then everybody with their different color,
comments, and everything – “Can you clean this and run us a table with
authorities and contents?” and I’m like “No, but I’ll retype it.”

Craig:              Yeah,
it’s amazing. In fact the big project I’m working on right now is a project to
help attorneys just learn basic skills – You don’t press tab to indent a
paragraph, you don’t press enter twice to get space between two paragraphs I
mean things that they just don’t know and anyway but I don’t want to get too
far into that.

Andrea:           [inaudible00:12:41]
one, they all know how to talk, so if you just have them tell somebody what
they want, it’s much faster for them and the product that comes back to them –
You know what? Attorneys only have so much time and so much dedication. They’re
practicing law under a tremendous amount of stress and generally under a
tremendous amount of time pressure so for them to actually take the time to
learn a simple word processing program – It kind of  is a little bit of a disconnect. They didn’t
go to law school so that they could work in quick block. They didn’t go to law
school so they can learn how to make a document format correctly so you get a table
of contents and a table of authorities. Can they learn it? Sure they can but if
you have people who are reticent to do it, provide them another option. If
they’ve already dictated in the past, they will jump on that option like you
wouldn’t believe, and everybody’s happy, because you’re actually getting the
work flow going at the right point in it. When you do the digital work flow,
you have to think of people, process, tech, and it’s pretty much in that order.
You have to look at the people and how they work, you have to provide them with
a secure process in order to get that work done and once you have that secure
process, you got to find the tech that fit. So if you can do it in that order,
you will get much higher adoption rates and you will get a much higher return
on your investment for any of the tech that you actually end up putting in
place or for any of  the management and
administrative fees, everything that they’re requesting you to develop this
process, it’s a no on the other end of it if you take people in consideration
in the beginning, you’ll create the process that works best for everyone and
you’ll find the tech, that’s just the last part of it. And unfortunately in our
[inaudible00:14:29], tech is the first thing. And people’s like tech and they
try to morph themselves and it works for some and doesn’t work for others but
unfortunately 99% of the time, the tech that the end-users are using is not
secure, and they shouldn’t be using its process for attorney work products,
period. I’m not an attorney, period. That’s not a legal opinion.

don’t want to get in trouble but there’s a reason why I say that and that
because I set up digital work flow for attorneys, and I have since 2001, and I
don’t feel comfortable when clients come to me and they use this particular
thing. My response to them always is “You do understand that’s a consumer class
device and there is a questionable thing on whether or not it’s being monitored
and everything else.” And they go “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.” But I
always have to get it out there because ultimately tech is the last thing and
they should be considering other things first – An attorneys convenience to
gather things and how quick they can drag and drop them kills in comparison to
a breach  of information that should not
be out there.

Craig:              I
couldn’t agree more. Often times, what people think is security is really not,
it’s just Security Theater.

Andrea:           Again
it’s one of those things where you have to take security into consideration at
the beginning. Don’t use a tech whose [inaudible00:15:50] – I call Google “the
board” and I’ve always called Google the board and everybody laughs at me and
it’s okay, I don’t mind – I use the board. I have a Gmail account and it has
things that are public in it of course – I have a Google calendar that lists
legal events and things on it so it’s not that I don’t utilize Google, I just
understand it. Google was created to index every keystroke of human existence.
That’s what its tech is; now add on, four years later, Gmail. Now what
[inaudible00:16:20] would be doing is, “Come over here and give us all of your
contents and then we can – Oh have it write on our own server. It will be
easier to index than going out and crawling and finding it.” So that’s what
everybody did. So now people are paying $50 when they’re suppose to have some
privacy involved and I have yet to able to find any reference from Google that
they are not indexing paid accounts, they’re just turning off ads. Is that a
fact? I don’t know but I’ve been looking ever since, they got the “okay to do
this whole ad thing” and then they did the paid thing, I was like “Oh they’re
just going to – Okay you will see no ads.” I think is what it says on the terms
or there is no ads, but it doesn’t say that it doesn’t index.

Craig:              Right,
I think you’re probably right on that. Let me just switch gears here just a
little and what I’d love to ask you and you’ve really eluded into this, kind
of, in a broader picture but if you were sitting down with a legal admin and
just wanted to give that person a few tips as to how to make this process
smoother – Let’s take the example of moving from tape to digital dictation.
What would be a couple of specific tips that you might give that person?

Andrea:           Okay,
if you add a server-based solution, which you will need even – If you add a
server-based solution cost, server-based solution almost always also require
the equipment of your end users. So when you’re talking to the applications
that tell themselves to larger legal installations that’s another cost that you
have to consider. If you want to make it as easy as possible on you end users,
make sure that you give them recorders with a slide switch. There are recorders
out there with buttons – I kind of break it down into two ways. If your
dictators are more from the game boy generation on, then they will probably
work best with a recorder that has prominent buttons on the front. If your pools
of dictators are dictators that are accustomed to a slide switch, pay the
couple of extra hundreds, get them the slide switch. They’re not going to adopt
that they have to now push and find a little button somewhere, it’s just not
going to work for them so pay the extra couple of hundreds and get recorders
with a slide switch, the one that I like the best and have for years is the
Philips 900 and one of my favorite companies to order from is
americandictation.com. I’ve known the owner since he was a little itty bitty
company and now is a big successful one but he always helps with installations
if you’re a solo and you can’t seem to get the software to work, you just call
him up, so it’s a very reputable person and order and he’s authorized on all of
the major – You always want to get a license, you don’t just want to go to
E-bay and but something and certainly don’t want to buy anything from you box
stores or your staples or any of those things. Unfortunately a lot of those
recorders are very inexpensive and that’s because you can’t get the file off of
the recorder, it’s a recorder not a dictation machine, so do try to keep that in
mind if you’re just trying to toy with it, don’t waste money you don’t have to
buying that doesn’t function for dictation.

Craig:              Got
you, okay. Well anything else you would like to add to this topic?

Andrea:           If
anybody has any questions, I’m more than happy to answer them There is no
charge for me to tick my brains for a few minutes out for a free consultation
from complementarily as well as [inaudible00:20:03], text or set up a call.

Craig:              Well
great, very good well, while we’re on that subject, any other contact
information that you want to give out to people, ways that they can contact you
or is that the best way?

Andrea:           Well
anybody can Google Legal Typist. L-E-G-A-L T-Y-P-I-S-T and there is multiple
things, items that are going to come up from pages that are all about me. If
course you can catch me online legaltypist.com and I am on Twitter all the
time, almost everyday, I would say I’m on everyday but I do share a lot of
information through Twitter, I make a lot of contacts through Twitter and I
enjoy it so I have a lot of fun on Twitter, so I’m legal typist on Twitter, so
if you want to follow my more personal account, sometimes is can’t really be as
snotty as I want to be because Legal Typist is a corporate account after all so
you can also follow me on Andrea Can, A-N-D-R-E-A C-A-N on Twitter as well.

Craig:              Well
great! And I would just say, if you really want to see somebody who does
Twitter well that you are a good person to follow because you seem to do it
pretty well.

Andrea:           Thank
you very much!

Craig:              Well
I am one that did it poorly, I’m a recovering automaton, I’ll say on Twitter so
anyway [laughter] – Alright well we’re going to move into today’s “Law Firm
Laughs” and for today’s Law Firm Laughs, I’m going to say please send me some
of your stories because I am frankly running out and for today I’m going to put
a link on this show note to a conference called “Gone Bad”. It’s a very funny
YouTube video an I think you will enjoy that and of course I will put other
things in the show notes that we have talked about as well.

for today’s Tech Tip, I want to talk about an app I use and you’re probably
using it too, it’s the kindle app but I wanted to give you three tips from the
kindle app that you may or may not be aware of. One is “send to kindle”, on my
windows 7 laptop, I can right click a pdf or word file, select sent to kindle,
and in a few minutes, that document is on my kindle, I love that feature.
Another feature that I like is being able to highlight text and add notes to the
selection and finally the ability to share a passage from a book via Facebook
or Twitter is just great. So Andrea we’ve talked about how folks can get in
contact with you, is there anything going on in your world coming up that you
would like to promote?

Andrea:           Absolutely!
I have been asked to join and be a part of Legal Chat on Twitter, which is a
weekly Twitter chat hosted by Natalie Alesi, she is legaler welcome and myself
and we – Today’s actually the first day it’s coming back, it’s been around for
a year and a half but I do believe it’s a little much for one person so
hopefully with us ganging up together, it will be much more consistent. It is
on Fridays at 11AM Easter Time, lasts generally 30 maybe 40 minutes and it’s
just a bunch of legal people getting together and talking about a topic and
today’s topic is being Friday the thirteenth is scary, so we’re hoping to get a
couple of scary things I see lawyers do with their tech. [Laughter]

Craig:              Well
that could be a really long show.

Andrea:           [Laughter]
Well we’re hoping this is going to be a fun one to jump us off and then
eventually we’re getting together so people within the legal realm themselves
to come over and be a little more subject matter, subject topic expert and give
a little more detailed information to the people who are going to be taking
their timeout to hangout with us a 11 AM on Fridays mornings.

Craig:              And
for those of you who may not be terribly Twitter savvy, what you want to do is
to just put in the #, search for the #legalchat and they you’ll be able to
follow the conversation even after the chat but certainly live would be more

Andrea:           Right
and if possible, I do believe we will be putting ads on the [inaudible00:24:15]
and putting together transcripts for people who are not on Twitter to still
benefit some of the information that are shared through it.

Craig:              Wow,
outstanding! That sounds great! Well I do want to promote one thing and that’s
this podcast. I would love your help in sharing it and we’ve made it really easy,
if you’ll go to the website which is legalleaderspodcast.com and there’s a
share button there and so you can go to legalleaderspodcast.com/share or go
directly there and click share, and then we’ve made it very easy to share via
Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook. So Andrea thanks so much for taking the time
and being on the show today.

Andrea:           Again
thank you so much for having me; it’s always fun to speak a little legal geek.

Craig:              Well
that’s great. Well that’s a wrap for episode 10.


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