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LAS VEGAS – (May 16, 2023) Many people are familiar with transcription in the context of captioning on television and movie broadcasts. While they are similar in some ways, there are important distinctions between nonlegal and legal transcription. What is legal transcription, and what does a legal transcriptionist do? This article explores the differences between legal transcription, court reporting and dictation, as well as provides insights into what it takes for a legal transcriptionist to work in this field.

How Does Legal Transcription Differ From Court Reporting?

Legal transcription involves creating written records from audio or video recordings of legal proceedings such as hearings, depositions, arbitrations, witness interviews, interrogations and trials. Legal transcriptionists capture every word from the audio/video records and create files that can be easily searched or referenced.

In contrast, court reporters strive to create records of legal proceedings as the proceedings occur. While court reporters use stenography machines and capture information live, legal transcriptionists work with recordings after the fact. That means they can pause or rewind the recording to ensure the written record is complete and accurate.

Is Legal Transcription the Same as Dictation? 

Attorneys and other professionals often use dictation to save time. Rather than drafting legal documents or correspondence themselves, the attorney can dictate the contents into an audio recording device. A paralegal or court reporter can then use the recording to prepare the written document for the attorney’s review and signature. Legal transcription can accomplish the same thing in a more cost-effective manner, freeing up the paralegal’s or court reporter’s time to focus on other tasks.

Ultimately, dictation and legal transcription are related, but they are not the same. Dictation is the process of creating a spoken record and legal transcription turns that spoken record into writing.

Does Transcription Software Do the Same Thing as a Legal Transcriptionist?

Transcription software has come a long way in recent years. However, as anyone who has ever used a digital assistant on their smartphone or computer can probably attest, there are often comical differences between what was spoken and what the device “heard” and returned in written form.

Software programs today are not good at understanding context, slang or regional dialects common in oral speech. When you add to those challenges the fact that legal proceedings often come with their own complex vocabulary, it becomes clear that transcription software tools are not equipped to do the same job as a qualified legal transcriptionist.

How Do I Know if a Legal Transcriptionist Is Qualified?

While there is not a standardized college degree program for aspiring legal transcriptionists, the nature of the job requires a high degree of skill and attention to detail. Reputable legal services firms require candidates to have completed transcription training and to be able to accurately type more than 80 words per minute. In addition, many transcription providers require or strongly prefer candidates who have completed legal transcription certifications.

The most successful legal transcriptionists also tend to have experience in the legal field, which means they are familiar with what is often a specialized and nuanced legal vocabulary. This helps to ensure the accuracy of transcribed legal proceedings.

Litigation Services Adds Value With Reliable Legal Transcriptions 

Legal transcripts can serve evidentiary purposes and are often key components in attorneys’ preparation for trial. As such, it is critical that transcriptions of legal proceedings be complete and accurate.

Litigation Services provides a full range of outsourced, cost-effective solutions including reliable legal transcriptions prepared by certified and professional court reporter transcribers. In fact, we have been serving attorneys, law firms, in-house counsel and others across the country since 1999. To learn more and to discover how Litigation Services can meet your legal transcription needs, contact us today.