Looking for a way to increase productivity in the creation of correspondence and legal documents? There is now a way to dictate correspondence, pleadings, etc. using the new-ish voice-to-text feature in Google Docs. If you text (sure you do) and use the Google voice-to-text function, it works similarly, but this time it’s on the Google Docs platform (Google’s version of MS Office).
Here are instructions (with print screens for the Google-challenged):
1. Make your way over to Google Docs and click on the link.
2. When you arrive at the landing page, click here:
3. You will see a template gallery, but for the purposes of creating correspondence or a pleading, click here:
4. After you are in the blank document, you can click on “Tools” and then “Voice typing …”
5. At this point, a little microphone will pop up on the left side of the screen, and you simply, “Click to speak.”
If you have a mic (you’ll need one, of course), you can start dictating away …
6. After your document is created, many formats are available to save and send it.
After you have your document the way you want it, you can save it in several different formats and send it several different ways. You can download it as one of the following types of files:
Or, you can simply email it to yourself, your secretary, another paralegal, your client, etc. in whatever file format you prefer.
To learn how to use handy voice commands and other features, click here:
There has been some discussion in the legal community regarding Google EULA agreements and attorney-client privilege. Some attorneys take the position that the free Google Terms of Service are not amenable to attorney client-confidentiality requirements and believe the use of free Google services puts client data at risk. Some attorneys still use them and do not share those concerns.
I inquired with the North Carolina State Bar regarding this concern to see if they had an EAO regarding this issue. The New York Bar, for example, has an EAO that does not prohibit its attorneys from using the free services (caveats exist). We are not New York, however, so I wanted to seek the NC State Bar’s guidance. The NC State Bar provided the following reply regarding my inquiry.
“Thank you for your inquiry. We do not have a specific opinion on this issue. The general standard is that lawyers need to be knowledgeable about technology and they have to use reasonable care to protect their clients’ confidences. See 2011 FEO 6.
Comment to Rule 1.1 (Competence)
 To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with the technology relevant to the lawyer’s practice, engage in continuing study and education, and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.
Opinion rules that a lawyer may contract with a vendor of software as a service provided the lawyer uses reasonable care to safeguard confidential…”
If you want to use the features, but have a concern regarding client confidentiality and Google, you can pay a nominal fee for the G-Suite of Services so that you are under the business terms of service which protect the mining of data. Alternatively, you can use Google’s free services to write blog posts, create/update website information, etc. – anything that you need to write, but does not include client information.