A former solicitor, who, at the turn of the 21st Century, set up DictateNow, a digital dictation and outsourcing business, Maxine Park has, quite literally, written her way into success books.
A lawyer working in commercial litigation in London, Maxine Park became a partner at her firm in 1992 at age 30.
“At the age of 15, I did one week’s work experience in a firm of solicitors as part of my school studies and from then on I knew I wanted to study law. My school careers advice was to work in a bank/study nursing/become a secretary but I did not want to be limited by these choices.
“Therefore, throughout my university study I spent holidays/summer holidays working in local firms of solicitors to gain experience. I feel this dedication paid off when I secured a training contract/articles to train as a solicitor with Sharpe Pritchard & Co Solicitors a prestigious solicitors in Holborn who were also parliamentary agents.”
During her time at the firm, Maxine gained first-hand experience as a fee earner and then moved to Harris, Rosenblatt & Kramer, where she became a partner involved in management of the practice, which was to later give her great insight when she ran her own business.
Maxine decided to work from home after she had her first child; however, after the birth of her second child, she left legal practice, attained a PGCE and lectured law to legal executives, HR personnel, and journalism students at Brunel University.
“I was a qualified solicitor with several years’ experience under my belt. However, when I had my first son, I approached the head of litigation partner to propose a home-working solution for me so that I could continue to practise as a solicitor but avoid the daily commute to London to gain more time with my son outside of working hours.
“Now, looking back, I feel I was a pioneer in being the only remote worker in my firm, particularly as a solicitor in my field, it was an unheard of practice at that time in a country of solely office-based workers. Indeed, I believe this early experience of remote working has helped me to have a window to the new world we are in where so many people now work from home, coffee shops, and so on.”
In 2002, Maxine launched DictateNow with husband Garry to offer an enhanced and efficient transcription resource to businesses in a wide range of sectors including legal, medical and accountancy. Her experience as a solicitor and home-working parent directly led to the formation of the compaany, which now employs over 300 home-based typists.
“In my time as a practising litigation solicitor I saw that many fee earners did not want to type their own documentation primarily because they were very slow at typing as well as wasting valuable billable hours typing when that time could be better-served fee earning. All solicitors have target billing hours each month to meet – and these were non-billable work hours. I recognised the opportunity and started working on it.”
Maxine’s husband’s background was in IT, which seemed spot on for the creation of their new transcription business as it that would depend entirely on technology, be it computers or a dictaphone .
“We came up with an idea of a system where solicitors could dictate their work as they usually did to a secretary but instead of having their own one to one dedicated secretary – very expensive and often not fully-occupied with typing/admin – the solicitor could send the work to DictateNow to transcribe with fast, accurate turnaround times.
“The practice manager at the solicitors firm where I worked was looking to trial a similar idea and I persuaded him to allow me to trial the system that Garry and I had created. I knew what was needed from the DictateNow transcribe system because I worked in that environment and could see the pitfalls of the then working system between solicitor and secretary. Needless to say the trial was a success and my firm were DictateNow’s first client and is still a client.”
According to Maxine, her firm takes pride in offering a fast, reliable and confidential digital dictation, transcription, document production and general business support services for many professional organisations, including solicitors, barristers, accountancy firms, medical professionals, MPs, as well as several FTSE250 firms in a wide range of sectors including legal, medical and accountancy.
Over time, the two directors developed the DictateNow software and outsourcing systems, which have proved to be quite successful. “The software has been designed ‘by lawyers for lawyers’ who fully understand and appreciate the necessity and demands for a business to provide a cost effective quality service for our clients. The DictateNow software provides a solution for transcriptions which meets these demands.”
In addition to the recent ISO 22301 certification for business continuity provisions, DictateNow is also ISO 9001 certified in recognition of its quality assurance system and ISO 27001 certified, which demonstrates that the firm protects clients’ data adequately and follows information security best practice.
Over the last three years, as part of the firm’s expansion and commitment to provide local support, DictateNow three regional offices established in Glasgow, Belfast, and Manchester.
Maxine believes the reason for her success is her entrepreneurial spirit and ability to take calculated risks.
“I think many lawyers have an entrepreneurial spirit, but very few take the chance. The more I thought about how my idea could work for law firms the more excited I got. All businesses have to be there to serve a need and the expansion of the company since we started is a natural progression of what we started as the 21st Century began. When customers are happy with your work and want you to do more, you have to find a way of serving this need, but not compromise quality.”
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