Skip to content

What is Legal Transcription?

Rev

Mar 12, 2021

What is Legal Transcription

RevBlogTranscriptionWhat is Legal Transcription?

The demand for fast and proficient legal transcription has skyrocketed in recent years. However, despite its popularity, there are also some misconceptions. What is legal transcription and why is it so important? Here’s what you need to know.

Legal transcription is simply the process of preparing written legal documents from video and/or audio recordings. A legal transcriptionist listens to audio or video files and types out the spoken words, creating a properly-formatted legal document.

The terms “dictation” and “transcription” are often interchanged. However, they’re not the same.

Dictation is the process of speaking into a recording device or to a person who writes down what you’re saying. After you’ve completed a dictation, you can review it either by reading the notes or playing the recording.

Transcription is the process of converting the spoken word into a written document. Transcription is done by a person (called a transcriptionist) or with voice-recognition software. Legal transcription is a specific type of transcription used to create legal documents. 

Those who aren’t “in the know” commonly confuse legal transcription and court reporting. While the two are similar in many ways, there are significant differences. 

First, a court reporter generally works inside a courtroom. Their primary function is to transcribe legal proceedings. A legal transcriptionist may work in a variety of settings within the legal system. On a typical day, they may transcribe things like:

  • 911 calls
  • Legal meetings
  • Wiretaps
  • Conference calls
  • Witness interviews
  • Hearings
  • Depositions
  • Jury instructions
  • Interrogations

A court reporter also uses a machine, called a stenograph, to create a real-time transcription of the words spoken during court proceedings. While court reporters are present during the proceeding, legal transcriptionists typically create documents from pre-recorded video or audio files. As a general rule of thumb, any time a judge is present, it’s necessary to use a court reporter rather than a legal transcriptionist.

Many attorneys recognize the benefits of professional legal transcription. Doing so significantly improves productivity, creating more time to focus on their key competencies.

In addition, most professional legal transcriptions contain enhancements, like speaker identification and timestamps. This assists attorneys in building their cases.

Legal transcriptions offer additional clarity when presenting evidence. The format also makes it easier to highlight important information. Legal transcriptions stored in a digital format are easier to organize and simple to transport. Searchable formats also make it easy to find what you’re looking for with the click of a button.

Many legal professionals balk at the idea of hiring an on-staff legal transcriptionist. However, outsourcing this critical task is an extremely cost-effective solution.

Thoroughly vetting a transcription company will help ensure they’re dependable and trustworthy. It will also help ensure they’re committed to providing the level of quality and service you need. Following are six important characteristics to look for when interviewing a legal transcription company.

1. Experience

When choosing a legal transcriptionist, few things are more important than experience. Transcription is used in the medical field, by insurance companies, and by a variety of other professionals. However, law firms need a qualified legal transcriptionist who has gone through specific training programs. This will ensure they’re familiar with legal terminology and can anticipate the needs of their clients. 

Mistakes or inaccuracies in legal transcriptions can negatively impact your case. Choosing a legal transcriptionist with years of experience will help ensure this doesn’t happen.

2. Security

Legal transcripts often include sensitive personal information. For this reason, confidentiality is critical. Look for a company that has a strong confidentiality policy and is willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement when needed.

The company you choose should protect your information with the highest possible level of encryption. It should also offer guarantees that it will keep your financial information secure.

3. Quality

It may seem like transcription is easy, particularly when there are so many free or inexpensive talk-to-text services available. However, in the legal field, accuracy is critical.

While automated transcription offers an accuracy rate of approximately 80%, this isn’t sufficient for legal documents. Instead, you’ll want to look for a legal transcription service that offers an accuracy rate of 99% or higher.

4. Efficiency

When interviewing legal transcription companies, always ask about turnaround times. In the legal world, it’s common to work under pressure. You need a company that can create transcriptions quickly without sacrificing quality. 

5. Pricing

Many professionals are thrilled to learn that legal transcription services are less expensive than they think. When considering your options, look for a company that offers transparent pricing without hidden costs. In most cases, a flat per-minute fee is the most cost-effective option.

6. Support and Service

Ideally, you’ll want to work with a U.S-based team that offers around-the-clock service. Also, look for companies that provide additional services you may need. For example, you may appreciate the ability to place rush orders or request document translation for non-English speaking clients.

Outsourcing your legal transcription may be one of the smartest moves you make. If you’re ready to get started, the experts at Rev are here to help.  We’re the number one transcription service in the world. Our legal transcriptions are done by human professionals with a 99% accuracy guarantee. Contact us today to get started!