What Is Legal Transcription?

Perhaps you’ve been part of a legal deposition and noticed a person listening closely to the questions and answers while typing away. Or you’ve watched a few crime dramas that have someone sitting in the courtroom typing and recording what is being said.

These are a couple of examples that clearly answer the question: what is legal transcription.

Legal transcription has evolved over the years to include a range of key skills, technologies, aptitudes, and procedure types. No longer just the domain of the courtroom, legal transcription is used to provide accurate legal documents of meetings, courtroom proceedings, depositions, arbitration hearings, conference sessions, and more.

These final documents are important pieces of evidence, reference material, and proof of facts that can be used in trials, settlements, investigations, etc. The importance of accuracy in legal transcription cannot be overlooked.

Explaining Legal Transcription

At its core, legal transcription involves transcribing source material. A legal transcriptionist can from recorded source material that can include data, video, and digital materials. There other instances when the legal transcriptionist sits in on the meetings, proceedings, or hearings and uses both the recorded material and keen listening skills to provide an accurate transcription of what is said.

The end product of the legal transcription varies based on what is being transcribed. For example, when the legal transcriptionist is transcribing a recording of an interview or courtroom proceedings, the natural human speech patterns including stutters, pauses, grammatical errors, etc. are all included and transcribed. However, when the end product of the legal transcription is a legal brief, official document, or other document of record, the legal transcriptionist ensures the grammar is correct, the legal terminology is correct, and that the required format is used including details such as the date, time, location, and people in attendance.

After the initial transcription, the legal transcription services company uses one or more people to proofread the document. During the proofreading process, attention is paid to spelling, grammar, formatting, terminology, etc. – in accordance with the type and format of the end product. The final transcribed product can be delivered to the client in a range of digital document formats as well as providing a hardcopy version.

Legal Transcription As A Career

A career in legal transcription is one that can be highly rewarding, varied, and long-lasting. As we highlighted above, legal transcriptionists can be called on to transcribe and record a range of meetings, procedures, and courtroom scenarios. There is never a boring day when working in legal transcription.

Thanks to the many changes in technology including specialized legal transcription mobile apps, recording technology, file sharing capabilities, and writing tools, the business of legal transcription is always evolving. While it is hard to find definitive job outlook statistics for legal transcription, we can use those of court reporters as a fair comparison of the future needs of the industry.

To become a qualified legal transcriptionist and build a career with a proven legal transcription services company, it’s important to attend a legal transcription certification program. While there are a range of such programs available, it’s important that your chosen legal transcription program includes the following key areas of study:

  • English language grammar including spelling and sentence structure.
  • Legal terminology and procedures.
  • The drafting, writing, proofreading, and formatting of legal documents.
  • Internet-based research including how to use the latest technology to conduct legal research.
  • Software training on key legal transcription software tools and technology.
  • Ethics training including the finer points of attorney-client privilege.
  • Business management skills for running a legal transcription services company and working as an independent contractor.
  • Workload management including stress management, planning, scheduling, and team work.

It’s important that you choose a legal transcription certification program that is recognized by the leading transcription services companies in your area. It’s a good idea to review the hiring qualifications of the legal transcription services companies you hope to work for and make sure you can meet these with your chosen certification program.

Benefits Of Legal Transcription 

Now that you know what legal transcription is, we want to remind you of the key benefits of hiring or a legal transcriptionist. (For anyone interested in becoming a legal transcriptionist, make sure your certification program sets you up with these key attributes.) 

  • Confidentiality and security.
  • Digital organization and file management expertise.
  • Accurate and versatile.
  • The final document meets the industry standards and specifications.
  • Confidence that the transcription is completed as quickly as possible with no errors.

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