Legal Deposition Transcription Services 101

By: Danielle Chazen

legal transcription


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Depositions have long been effective discovery tools for cases, eliciting important information and sometimes catching parties in lies. Whether a deposition court reporter uses a stenographic machine or a digital recorder, accuracy in legal deposition transcription services is of the utmost importance. A single word can change the meaning of a sentence, and therefore the entire outcome of a case.

Technology advancements help court reporter agencies ensure business longevity and scale, while also providing higher quality service to clients.

The Most Critical Components of a Legal Deposition to Guarantee Accurate Transcriptions

For lawyers, it’s critical to ask the right questions in the right order. In depositions, they must come up with useful follow up questions and find creative ways to uncover difficult answers. 

It’s also critical that deposition court reporters are ready to provide high-quality deposition transcription services. That process begins with the reporter arriving at the deposition’s location before the lawyers do, ensuring proper room setup of their computer, software, and microphones.

Throughout the deposition, the court reporter must ensure the proceeding is being recorded accurately. Digital court reporters must supervise their recording systems throughout the deposition, adding annotations in recording software when clarifications are needed about who is speaking. They often take manual notes of key events as a backup.

If there is a technical challenge, such as an inaudible speaker in the recording, it’s the court reporter’s job to stop the proceeding, ask the speaker to repeat his or her words or fix the technical glitch. This process is similar to a stenographer’s responsibility to ask for sentence repetition or louder speech for documentation sake.

The setup work before and during a deposition leads both traditional and digital court reporters to ultimately deliver more accurate transcriptions.

The Impact of Technology on Deposition Transcription Services

The biggest challenge impacting the deposition industry is the acute shortage in stenographers. The average age of a stenographer today is 50+. A growing number of stenographers are retiring and few professionals are seeking stenographic studies, which means schools are starting to close their doors.

Technological innovations offer many new career paths to the new generation, and these technologies are shifting law firms’ expectations as well. Clients want their legal deposition transcriptions quickly, accurately and cost-effectively. They grow frustrated when depositions are postponed because there are not enough stenographers. As time progresses, the parties involved seek out deposition reporters who can produce seamless work for them.

Only a small percentage of deposition transcription services providers have transitioned into digital, yet customers are searching for these tech-savvy agencies. State laws across the US have approved this technology. The market already offers tools that guarantee the same level of accuracy as stenographers provide, but faster and at a better price.

Stenographers’ careers and agencies are not at risk, they are just more advanced and empowered. In fact, adding a human factor to these technologies creates opportunities for further efficiencies and scalability.

How Speech Recognition Speeds Up the Legal Deposition Transcription Process and Improves Accuracy

The majority of deposition reporters have poured years into the practice of quick typing. They turn fast-paced legal exchanges it into accurate deposition transcriptions.

The challenge, of course, is that traditional deposition reporters are human. They may hear something incorrectly, mix up speakers, or struggle to concentrate due to a personal or health issue. 

Software, on the other end, rarely has a “bad day.” It doesn’t rely on a single person’s understanding. If the deposition reporter uses software that includes a speech recognition engine, it can easily capture every word accurately. With cutting-edge tools, voice recognition can decipher voices, even similar ones or ones that consistently talk over one another.

When it comes to transcribing the deposition, the transcriber is not required to listen to the recording over and over again to ensure every detail has been captured. The software does it for him or her, and it does so fast. This ability enables a significant drop in transcription costs for agencies, which is especially true if the transcription provider leverages artificial intelligence.

How AI-Based Software Ensures Longevity and Scales for Deposition Reporters

The top benefit of using AI-based deposition transcription software is that the tool gets smarter the more it is used. The software product can learn legal terms and case information faster than any human, making it easier to understand complex terminology and references to past cases.

Depending on the provider, legal transcription can be provided either in real-time or shortly after the recording is submitted. When not done in real-time, some transcription companies provide human professionals to review the software’s work. This review ranges from accurate documentation to correcting a deposition transcript format. Clients can still receive the final results faster than they did when it was a human-only operation.

Agencies will end up saving on transcription costs, enabling them to serve more clients simultaneously. When human intelligence stays at the core center of the process, leveraging artificial intelligence can only help reporters, agencies, and others deliver services more efficiently.