How a legal case that turned into a $750,000 payout was saved using SpeakWrite

I am relatively certain that had they not taken action to resolve that motion to dismiss on the evening that I received it at about 7:30, they would’ve been out of court. In the absence of having the tools of SpeakWrite (which the larger firm wasn’t really sold on as using), I could not have turned that around overnight and basically saved the firm’s case and the client.
How SpeakWrite helped save a legal case that turned into a $750,000 payout
Late night work. Credit: Pexels

It may be that many of the stories concern SpeakWrite’s ability to assemble packets of material right before a deadline.

This is another one.

About 10 years ago when I was of-counsel to a larger firm in the southeast, I got a call from one of the partners at, I think, about 7:30 at night asking me to look at a motion to dismiss that was filed in federal court in a case that I was not counsel – I had not filed a notice of appearance.

Apparently, an associate named Steve (not his real name) had recently left the firm and just left this motion to dismiss with the partner. The timeframes in federal court are fairly short, some 21 days, and are unforgiving. There is more liberality to re-open a motion to dismiss in state court than in federal court.

It was a pretty good – but rather complex tort that the firm was a plaintiff on, and the standard, off-the-shelf insurance defense had filed a well-written motion to dismiss.

There was no time to obtain an extension, and the partner was pretty panicked. There was about 18 hours max to completely figure out the case and respond to it.

There wasn’t an issue of the firm paying me for it; it was more like, “Why am I doing this in a case I’m not counsel?”.

But I asked him to send me all of the raw data, and I would see what I could do. My wife and I still had children to feed, and my recollection is we fed them, put them to bed, I got a few hours of sleep and went into the office at about 2:00 in the morning and read all of the information he sent me.

It was a “complex” answer. I am like “What am I going to do?”.

Now, it may come from that the use of dictation is a skill that has been lost in many ways. However, what I decided to do was review the cases and the material, and, instead of making notes or continue to do the research, I took each pod of information and thought of myself as standing at the oral argument podium and simply dictating the information as though I was making the oral argument reading from the response in opposition to the “motion to dismiss”.

I think I must have dictated about five or six pods of information to SpeakWrite which all came back by 7:00 or 8:00 or 9:00 that morning. I sewed them together in a pretty rough collection of the introduction, the factual background in opposition to the defense’s motion, the argument and citation of authority going through the research that Steve had done, and dictating the case cites except that instead of using notes, what I did was dictate live that the case Smith v. Jones stands in direct opposition to the defense’s motion to dismiss in that it states, “I would insert the exact quote” and then put the citation at the end of that. And, I had to think live in the dictation about whether that would be an Id. cite or would be a supra cite or would be a full cite to that case that I mentally knew hadn’t been used.

I sewed all of that information, sent it to the senior partner at about 9:30, maybe. He got it [I think I went home and went to sleep.], and an assistant put together the material, worked on a draft and revisions, and was actually able to get a courier (this is before everything was dictated to be e-filed) to the federal courthouse at about 3:30 that afternoon.

That case – which lasted for more than 2 years – eventually produced about a three-quarter of a million-dollar payout. I was not involved in the continuing work from the time I handed back the response to the motion to dismiss until they eventually prevailed in federal court. However, I am relatively certain that had they not taken action to resolve that motion to dismiss on the evening that I received it at about 7:30, they would’ve been out of court. In the absence of having the tools of SpeakWrite (which the larger firm wasn’t really sold on as using), I could not have turned that around overnight and basically saved the firm’s case and the client. Realize that the client is ultimately harmed by a failure to respond to these motions to dismiss without regard to the problems the lawyers have.

So, that was another time that SpeakWrite was able to provide information and turn-around from 4:30 in the morning through 9:30 in the morning in various pieces of a dictated brief that were sewed together and filed that day.

– Story contributed by Hugh Woods.

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3 Responses

    1. Hi Elizabeth, SpeakWrite is our human-powered transcription service that runs 24 hrs and can be used for other transcription projects. I will have someone from our sales team contact you with more information.

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