Choosing Legal Transcription Services: The Ultimate Guide

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    Discover the ultimate guide to choosing legal transcription services for accurate, efficient document conversion and how it benefits law firms.

    Audio and video files are a crucial part of day-to-day business for legal professionals. But converting them into usable documents can be a costly and tedious process. 

    If you’ve been doing transcription in-house and want to start outsourcing to a professional legal transcription service, you might be wondering how to choose the right one. 

    Be prepared to choose the provider for your office—read from top to bottom so you can learn everything you need to know about legal transcription services

    What Is Legal Transcription?

    Legal transcription services specialize in transcribing audio and video materials into court ready documents. Think dictations, depositions, and testimonies. 

    Legal transcription services are popular because they help law firms handle busy times without overworking their staff or spending too much money. 

    Professional legal transcriptionists are available 24/7 and cost less than hiring more people or using lawyers’ time for typing documents. Legal transcriptionists are well-versed in the formatting, stylistic, and confidentiality standards used in the industry. 

    Can You Use A.I. For Legal Transcription?

    Though A.I. has made it easy to transcribe audio and video quickly, the added work of editing and formatting automated transcriptions makes it an unrealistic option for many law offices and legal teams. 

    Other limitations often stem from A.I.’s occasional inaccuracies or misunderstandings of complex legal terminology and nuances, which can be critical in legal contexts. When accuracy matters, opt for human transcription instead.

    What Are The Benefits Of Legal Transcription Services?

    First and foremost, legal transcription services take care of the process from start to finish. You can submit a file and have a court-ready transcription back in a matter of hours. 

    Besides that, here are a few more reasons why legal professionals are increasingly turning to legal transcription services:

    Legal transcription services are more cost-effective. 

    If you’ve been relying on an in-house team to transcribe files, switching to legal transcription can significantly reduce your overhead costs. They’re also more efficient—if your office or precinct needs transcripts at volume, a transcription service is going to be far speedier than an in-house team. 

    Legal transcriptionists are known for their accuracy. 

    Human transcriptionists have an accuracy rate of 99% to 100%. Other the other hand, AI transcription is still in its infancy, and most automatically-generated transcriptions are riddled with inaccuracies. Professional legal transcriptionists reliably produce accurate transcripts, even when language is accented, and can create verbatim transcriptions when necessary.

    Legal transcription companies tend to offer additional services. 

    Providers like SpeakWrite offer a number of other services used by legal professionals, including Spanish translation and custom transcription integrations that help speed up the process. 

    Types of Legal Transcription Services

    Legal transcription is useful for a number of use cases: 

    • Depositions & Transcript Summaries
    • Wills & Estate Documents
    • Zoom Depositions & Interviews
    • Witness Testimony
    • Meetings
    • Videotaped Interviews & Proceedings
    • Legal & Appellate Briefs
    • Recorded Statements
    • Contracts & Agreements
    • General Correspondence
    • Letters & Memorandums
    • Legal Pleadings
    • Motions
    • Multi-Speaker Conversations
    • Spanish Interviews
    • Property, Casualty & Liability Reports
    • Live Phone Conversations

    Additionally, you can choose between verbatim, intelligent, or edited transcription: 

    Verbatim Transcription

    Verbatim transcription captures every word, including non-verbal communications like laughter or sighs, exactly as they are spoken. Verbatim transcription is used when exact words and nuances of speech are essential for the context, such as in court proceedings or detailed interviews.

    Clean Verbatim (Intelligent Verbatim) Transcription

    Clean verbatim transcriptions remove filler words, false starts, and other non-essential sounds not critical to the meaning of the dialogue. This type of transcription is easier to read and still retains the message’s accuracy and intent. 

    Edited Transcription

    Edited transcriptions go a step further by not only removing fillers and false starts but also restructuring sentences for clarity, coherence, and grammatical correctness. This type is often used to convey the speaker’s intended message in the most understandable and polished form. 

    Automatic, Hybrid, or Human Transcription? 

    • Automatic transcription uses AI to produce a rudimentary transcript, but legal professionals typically have stringent requirements surrounding formatting, accuracy, and data security, making it necessary to involve an actual human in the process. 
    • Hybrid transcription services rely on an automatically-generated transcript that is then reviewed for accuracy by a human. These tend to be more accurate than AI, but hybrid transcription services generally don’t allow you to set formatting requirements or request a specific transcription type
    • Human transcription services are ideal for legal professionals. Professional legal transcriptionists typically have the knowledge and experience to produce accurate, properly-formatted transcripts, and can accommodate requests.

    The bottom line: if you’ve been producing transcripts in-house and need a solution that’s comparable to those you get from your team, a fully-human legal transcription service is your best bet.

    How to Pick the Right Legal Transcription Service for Your Practice

    If your practice is in the market for a legal transcription service, there are a few things to consider—and a lot of providers to vet. Here’s a breakdown of what you should be looking out for as you shop around.

    Selecting a Specialized Service:  Match Providers With Your Practice Area

    First and foremost, look for a transcription service that works primarily with legal professionals. Searching for “legal transcription services” will return a ton of results, but many of them are in fact generic transcription services that don’t necessarily have any expertise in creating legal documents. 

    Reputable legal transcription services tend to do a better job adhering to industry standards, and typically take a more rigorous approach to confidentiality and data security.

    Quality Assurance:  Verifying Service Accuracy Before Hiring

    As you weigh your options, be sure to check not only the accuracy of the transcription service’s past work but also their quality assurance processes. 

    It may even be worth taking advantage of any free transcription trials offered so you can see for yourself how well they adhere to their promises.

    Reputable legal transcription providers should be able to guarantee at least 99% accuracy, provided the audio is clear. In addition to a faithful transcription of the words themselves, quality transcripts should also adhere to any instructions or templates provided. 

    Cost-Effectiveness:  Choosing Services Within Your Price Range

    The cost of legal transcription can add up—particularly for those who need high volumes of content transcribed, t

    As you shop around, weigh your needs against your budget, taking into consideration the per-word cost of different types of projects, as well as how much time you might save by outsourcing versus doing transcription in-house.

    If you’ve been employing transcriptionists in your office or precinct, it may be worth doing a cost-benefit analysis to see how much you might save by outsourcing. 

    Confidentiality & Security:  Ensuring Data Protection Compliance

    The sensitive information you handle as a legal professional requires extra consideration when it comes to vendors. Reputable providers should adhere to stringent confidentiality and data security measures to protect sensitive information. This includes:

    • End-to-end encryption
    • Secure data transfer and storage practices
    • Vetted typists under strict NDAs and confidentiality agreements
    • Options for secure link delivery

    Review each provider’s security policy to see what steps they take to protect their clients. Look for the “CJIS ready” badge on each vendor’s website. This designation indicates that the provider adheres to the set of strict security standards created by the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Service (CJIS) Division. 

    Customer Service:  Evaluating Responsiveness and Efficiency

    When evaluating a legal transcription service, it’s a good idea to assess the quality of their customer service team. Ideally, you won’t run into too many problems if you go with a reputable legal transcription service, but there may be times when you need to talk to a representative. 

    Check that they have a dedicated customer support line staffed by trained customer service professionals, and that that line is open even on evenings, weekends, and holidays. 

    Considering Turnaround Time

    Though the legal system may not be known for its efficiency, legal teams are under no less pressure to get things done. Professional legal transcription services understand this pressure, which is why the good ones can have your documents returned in just a few hours.

    If you’re wondering how that’s possible, it might help to understand how the process works. Once you submit your audio files to the transcription service, it is sent directly to a team of professional transcriptionists across the U.S. Those transcripts are then edited, formatted, reviewed for accuracy, and sent back to you. 

    In the case of SpeakWrite, there’s a transcription team available 24/7, meaning you can send off your files on evenings, weekends, and even holidays and have the finished documents in your inbox a few hours later. 

    Nine times out of ten, that efficiency simply makes your life easier—but there may be situations when it can make or break a case.

    AI vs Human Transcription Services

    You’ll also need to check whether the services you’re considering are using AI. Submitting audio to AI transcription services might not be as secure as dedicated legal transcription providers—in fact, services like Rev plainly state that they share data with third parties

    To avoid security vulnerabilities, look for services that use 100% human transcription. Not only will you be maintaining confidentiality within your organization, your documents will be more accurate and adhere to your specifications.

    Top Legal Transcription Services

    Here are some of the top legal transcription providers that are known for their accuracy, experience, affordability, and quick service:

    SpeakWrite

    SpeakWrite offers legal transcription services that are accurate, fast, and cost-effective. They provide court-ready legal documents transcribed by experienced professionals—usually delivered the same day within about 3 hours. 

    Law firms can benefit from unlimited typist capacity 24/7, allowing them to focus on billable hours and practice growth without the overhead costs. SpeakWrite’s service includes transcribing a wide range of legal documents and ensures confidentiality and data security through multi-level security measures. Visit SpeakWrite

    GoTranscript

    Offers fast turnaround times and maintains privacy by breaking the audio file into pieces for distribution among several transcriptionists. They’re recognized for their affordable rates, starting from $0.99 per minute, and they offer a loyalty discount program. Visit GoTranscript

    LexTranscribe

    Specializes in legal transcription, providing services with 99% accuracy and issuing a certificate of accuracy. They focus solely on legal transcription and offer 24/7 customer support, making them a reliable choice for legal professionals globally. Visit LexTranscribe

    MOS Transcription Company

    Known for serving the legal industry for over 15 years, MOS employs experienced legal transcriptionists, editors, and proofreaders to deliver accurately transcribed documents in custom formats. Visit MOS Transcription Company

    Flatworld Solutions

    Flatworld can process a significant number of legal documents quickly and have a team of over 50 legal transcribers. Their rates are competitive, starting from $0.75 per minute. Visit Flatworld Solutions

    Voxtab

    Prioritizes confidentiality and is trusted for legal transcription services. They follow strict confidentiality guidelines and offer transcription in over 20 languages. Their team consists of paralegals, legal secretaries, qualified court reporters, attorneys, and legal specialists.  Visit Voxtab

    Legal Transcription Services: Frequently Asked Questions

    What is legal transcription?

    It involves converting audio and video recordings from legal proceedings into written documents.

    Can AI be used for legal transcription?

    While AI can transcribe quickly, its accuracy and understanding of complex legal jargon may not meet the high standards required for legal documents.

    What are the benefits of using legal transcription services?

    They offer cost-effective, accurate transcription services, helping law firms manage workload efficiently without overburdening staff.

    What types of content can legal transcription services handle?

    Services can transcribe a variety of legal documents, including depositions, testimonies, legal briefs, and more.

    How do I choose the right legal transcription service?

    Consider factors like specialization in legal transcription, accuracy rates, turnaround time, confidentiality policies, customer service, and cost.

    Is human or AI transcription better for legal documents?

    Human transcription is preferred for its higher accuracy and understanding of legal terminology and context.

    If you’re tired of shopping around for a transcription provider for your team, you can breathe a sigh of relief—you’ve found one. 

    Speakwrite works primarily with law enforcement, law offices, and legal teams, offering lightning-fast, ≥99% accurate, 100% human transcription for virtually any type of legal document, as well as dictation, Spanish translation, and even seamless API integration for super-efficient workflows. 

    Our clients have relied on us to meet their legal transcription needs for more than 25 years. Get started with a free SpeakWrite pilot today.

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