Be honest—how much time do you spend each week typing your own legal transcriptions? Here’s what it’s costing you in the long run.

When it comes to legal transcription, many professionals are tempted to tackle it themselves. After all, you learned to type furiously when your professors lectured in law school, so why not save the firm a few bucks here and there by typing documents yourself?

Unfortunately, choosing self-transcription could be doing more harm than good. There are several hidden costs associated with transcribing your own legal documents, and some could be wreaking havoc on your efficiency and overall ROI.

In this blog post, we’ll cover some of the opportunity costs DIY transcription incurs for legal professionals and why it’s often wiser to leave the transcription to the experts.

3 Costly Things That Happen When Attorneys Type Their Own Transcripts

Let’s say you’re a whiz at typing.

You can manage 75 words per minute with 100% accuracy. Aside from the fact that this is almost unheard of, would it still make sense for you to type your own legal documents?

The answer is a resounding no. Here’s why.

You will sacrifice money and efficiency.

If you were to dictate a legal report, you’d likely manage to speak about 120 words per minute. That’s 60% faster than even the speediest, most accurate lawyer could ever type!

But doesn’t it make more sense to just take an hour or so out of your day to type documents yourself if it saves money?

The answer is still no. Typing documents yourself actually costs more money in the long run. That’s one billable hour that you’re not researching client issues, preparing for a case, or working on business development.

Sure, the result is the same—you got a typed transcript. But what was the cost in the end? What essential tasks went unaddressed while you were typing (and formatting) the document?

It all comes down to opportunity cost. Take that into consideration and suddenly, the small savings you managed by typing the document yourself is costing you handsomely.

The formatting and layout will inevitably cause a hassle.

Depositions, affirmations, interrogations, conference calls, legal briefs—all of these documents require unique formatting conventions.

That brings us to our next costly problem.

Say you need to create a one-page letter to an applicant’s attorney. If it’s about 500 words long, it will take you almost seven minutes to type at 75 words per minute (and that’s only if you have zero errors and know how to set up all the proper formatting for the document type!)

If you were to dictate that same letter, you would have it done in 3 minutes, and it would come back 100% accurate with all of the proper formatting and layout conventions.

So while some legal professionals may be able to type at lightning speed, they’re not experts at creating professional documents. For example, do you know when and how to use the “keep with next” feature to prevent important text from spilling onto two separate pages? What about hanging indents to ensure that second/subsequent lines line up at the same position?

These are just a few of the critical things that an expert typist will automatically do to ensure that your document is returned in a polished, ready-to-use format. Otherwise, you might need to factor in extra time for Google searches like “how to keep my signature block from spilling onto the next page.”

The time you “save” by typing your own documents will add up big (and not in a good way).

Admittedly, saving three minutes by hiring professional legal transcription services to type up a 500-word document may not seem like much. But even if you’re only writing a few documents a day, that time can really add up.

In one survey of law firms that used professional legal transcriptionists, 96% of lawyers reported saving at least 30 minutes per day. That adds up to over 11 hours per month they could devote to billable activities!

The bottom line? When you type your own legal documents, it may seem like you’re saving time and money. But in reality, you’re sacrificing efficiency and accuracy (and, if it’s formatting poorly, possibly professionalism)—costing you more in the long run.

We Studied What Happened When Two Law Firms Used Legal Transcription Services—Here's What Happened

Those costly numbers can add up if you’re with a legal firm. We looked at two case studies where law firms used a professional transcription service to see its effect on their business. Here’s what we found.

The hours added up in a big way.

In the first case study of a large law firm that used transcription services, 70 attorneys saved a whopping 785 hours over 90 days. The other, smaller law firm had 11 lawyers sending their legal documents to be transcribed. They managed to save 389 hours over the 90 days period we analyzed.

Imagine what you could achieve with all those hours! From being able to take on more cases, developing marketing plans, or even taking some much-needed vacation time, the possibilities are endless.

Whether you’re working with a big law firm or you’re a solo practitioner, using legal transcription services will save you time—a lot of it.

Turnaround time for jobs was impressive.

The large law firm in our case study needed 24,185 minutes of audio transcribed. The average job length was just over 13 minutes, and our typists managed to turn around the jobs in an average of just 1 hour and 42 minutes.

The smaller firm in our study submitted a total of 9,531 minutes of audio over 90 days for an average length of about four minutes. Trained typists managed to turn those legal transcription documents around in an average of only 54 minutes.

If your time is valuable to you (and we’re betting it is), then using legal transcription services will help you get your work done more quickly and efficiently.

The Surprising Advantages of Using Professional Legal Transcription

While you might be used to transcribing your own legal documents, there are some astonishing advantages to using a professional transcription service that you could be missing out on.

Our clients see a boost in their efficiency and productivity.

Using legal transcription services frees up your schedule to focus on more important tasks while still getting the documents you need.

Transcriptionists are available through any number of services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so you can get your documents transcribed when it’s convenient for you.

By using professional human typists (you’ll want to avoid AI—more on that here), you can also rest assured that experienced typists will transcribe your documents accurately. They’ll also be returned to you in a polished format, leaving you free to focus on more pressing matters.

The accuracy is second-to-none—even if you pride yourself on being a speedy typist.

Even the best amateur typists make mistakes—it’s only human. But when it comes to legal documents, even a tiny mistake can have significant consequences.

That’s why using legal transcription services with experienced, professional typists is essential. Trained typists are trained to handle complex audio files with multiple speakers and create accurate, flawlessly formatted documents—even if the audio is difficult to understand.

Sensitive data is handled safely and securely.

If you’re worried about security and confidentiality, don’t be. When it comes to legal transcription, security and confidentiality are paramount. Professional typists handle sensitive audio files with discretion, and some companies can even provide you with non-disclosure agreements.

So You Want To Optimize Efficiency With Legal Transcription Services—Now What?

You spent years investing in your legal education. You paid your dues early in your career, and now, you’re continuing to strive to the next level. Are you going to get there faster by spending hours per week creating documents?

By investing that time in typing (even if you’re super fast), you’re NOT investing that time in activities that advance your cases, practice, and career.

The solution is to use legal transcription services. But with so many companies out there that provide transcription services, how do you choose the right one?

Here are some of the hallmarks of an exceptional professional transcription service:

  • A long track record of providing accurate, beautifully-formatted legal documents.
  • A team of highly trained, all human (no AI), professional typists who can follow dictation instructions (e.g., “scratch that,” “new line,” or “next bullet, please”).
  • A commitment to security and confidentiality.
  • A competitive pricing structure.
  • Reasonable turnaround times that allow for accuracy without unreasonable wait times.
  • Exceptional customer service.

Ready To Get Started?

Don’t spend another minute transcribing your own legal documents—it’s time to invest in professional legal transcription services.

SpeakWrite is a 100% human transcription service that can take care of all your transcription needs in a timely, accurate, and affordable manner. You can rest assured that we’ll complete your transcription quickly and accurately. Plus, our competitive pricing makes us an affordable option for any budget.

Learn more about how SpeakWrite’s best human transcription services can save you time and money today.