I received a lot of e-mails after my Starting a New Law Office article ran in the Texas Bar Journal about my solution to the dictation issue, so I thought I'd reprint what I told people.
To recap, like most lawyers I'm used to having a DictaPhone system for dictating everything from time to letters to briefs. When I first moved out I entered my own time directly into my billing software, but in a matter of days my right forearm started to threaten to fall off, so I realized I had to get something to get the typing to my secretary. I wasn't about to incur the expense of installing a DictaPhone system (which is unspeakably obsolete anyway) and had always thought that there ought to be a digital equivalent (setting aside for the moment voice recognition software, which would take way too long to learn, and is not really necessary if you have an assistant), so I went looking.
What I use is a RCA RP5022B handheld digital voice recorder, 64 meg capacity. I picked it up at Wal-Mart for $30 something (it's now $29.54) and it's been a lifesaver. I plug it into a USB cable I keep plugged into my laptop's docking station and transfer the current file periodically to a folder on the server where my paralegal is expecting it. I dictate a while, switch it off, then with several buttons I can resume dictating at the end of the file I left off. We both have the software included installed and she plays it on that (it'll slow or speed up, which my nine year old thinks is cool - probably not as versatile as a foot pedal but she can type way faster than I can drawl the words out, so it isn't a problem). Uses two AAA batteries so we have four on a recharger in the supply room/kitchen and I'm always switching out (but I carry a couple of real batteries on trips, since rechargeable battery life is very short). Since I can get to my server via VPN I can record anywhere (for example in an airport waiting for a flight) and transfer anywhere I have a connection. If the VPN is down I just e-mail the file to her. If I had multiple attorneys working out of the office (which was the question from several readers), I'd give each one one of these, and have them periodically upload the dictation files to a central location.
Only complaint I have is that I wish it uploaded new files from the handheld automatically when plugged in, like a camera does, and that some of the functions required one button press instead of several - but that's it. I know there are many ways of handling dictation, and in larger firms I'm sure there are more elegant ones, but this works just great for my setup, and I highly recommend it.