A Basic Guide to Legal Transcription Examples

By: Sarah Roberts

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Legal transcription solutions support the industry in many ways. Whether it’s preserving important evidentiary information or documenting a deposition, legal transcription services need to abide by some of the strictest accuracy standards. For this reason, it’s important for court reporting agencies and anyone else using legal transcription services to work with a partner that understands the ins and outs of this demanding industry. 

How do you transcribe a legal document? 

Transcribing a legal document often means hiring a stenographer to capture everything from an interview or produce a verbatim transcription of an audio recording. Having a verbatim, or word-for-word record is standard, and even mandatory for legal transcriptions. This requirement differentiates the legal industry from many others, where having a summary or “clean” transcript that removes “ums” and other non-critical language is preferable because it offers easier reading. 

Although court reporting transcription still often relies on stenographers to produce legal transcripts, court reporting agencies are now using professional court reporters that rely on other, more modern methods. Today, the legal industry is starting to embrace more technology, especially tools designed with their specific professional needs in mind.  

people in a legal hearing

Types of legal transcription 

Here are a few types of legal transcription solutions that court reporting agencies employ to produce transcripts. 

Stenographers 

Stenographers use a stenograph machine to capture speech in real time. These machines allow court reporters to use a form of shorthand that supports their ability to capture speech quickly. The stenographer can hit multiple keys at the same time, creating full words and phrases. As a result, trained stenographers can keep up with speakers when even the fastest typists on traditional keyboards could not. Stenographers appear in court, for depositions and other legal proceedings.  

Voice writers 

Voice writing is a type of legal transcription that requires a device called a steno mask. Court reporters speak into this mask quietly in a courtroom or other legal setting. A voice recognition software captures their speech and converts it to text.  

Digital court reporters 

These professionals use state of the art digital technology, to capture accurate recordings. Next, they use automatic speech recognition (ASR) to produce transcripts. Specialized legal transcription providers like Verbit use specially trained legal transcribers to review and edit the output for high quality, industry level final transcripts. 

Each of these methods for creating legal transcripts is effective. The costs and availability may vary, especially as stenographers are in short supply. Digital court reporting is a more modern approach, and one that is growing in popularity throughout the US.  

Legal transcription formats 

Generally, transcription formats are extremely versatile. A professional transcription provider can create various formats based on the user’s preferences. However, the legal transcription format that most court reporters need will be the one that their jurisdiction or other rules require. There might be some minor issues that can vary based on preference, but for the most part, the important consideration is whether the transcription provider knows how to produce transcripts in the required format.  

Legal transcription examples 

Legal transcription examples include documenting courtroom proceedings, depositions and more. Here is a basic breakdown of the various proceedings that legal transcribers or court reporters might cover.  

Courtroom proceedings 

Court reporters will often produce a legal transcript during trials, but they may cover other proceedings too, such as hearings. Capturing the audio accurately in a courtroom is vital, but also challenging. For instance, the courtroom acoustics can make for less-than-ideal audio quality. In those cases, it’s critical that digital court reporters use ASR trained to adapt in those situations. Also, there are often multiple speakers, including witnesses, attorneys, judges and more. Having an accurate record, including speaker notations, is often necessary when a party wants to appeal a decision. As a result, legal transcription standards in the courtroom are particularly strict.  

Depositions 

Depositions are sworn witness testimonies. The parties, witnesses and experts may sit for depositions. Transcribing interviews of important witnesses and others involved in litigation is vital for attorney trial preparation, including drafting briefs and motions, as well as preparing to question witnesses on the stand during the trial. Also, the parties may wish to enter the deposition transcripts in court, making accuracy of the utmost importance for these proceedings.  

Arbitration or mediation 

Not every dispute goes through the courts. Many contracts require that the parties mediate or arbitrate in lieu of or before they start litigating a matter. These alternative dispute resolution methods can save costs. Although these proceedings are outside of the courtroom, there’s often a lot at stake in these cases. Capturing an accurate record is often required by the agreement, and those transcripts might be necessary or helpful if a party chooses to litigate the matter. 

Legal conferences & seminars 

Attorneys must take continuing education courses and frequently attend events that discuss important topics of the moment. While transcripts of a conference might not hold the same weight as a court proceeding, having a written record is useful and can help legal professionals get the most out of an event. Sometimes, a written record is even required for accessibility reasons.  

professional conference with speaker in a suit

Meetings & conference calls 

Call transcription services can help preserve information from meetings. Some attorneys may also like to use a voice recorder to capture their thoughts on a case or litigation strategy. When working collaboratively or trying to develop a game plan for a particular case, having a written record is often more useful than an audio recording. Searchable transcripts make it easier to find and review information. Using a legal transcription provider to produce transcripts will make that process easier and produce the best results.  

Selecting a legal transcription provider 

Legal transcription providers need to understand the unique needs of the legal profession. For example, when it comes to transcript format and accuracy requirements, the final results must meet highly specific standards. Additionally, transcribing audio from legal proceedings requires some level of expertise on the part of the transcriber. The audio may include niche language that not every transcriber would be familiar with.  

As a company dedicated to serving the legal market, Verbit understands the needs of court reporting agencies and their clients. We address the required high levels of accuracy by using industry level training and testing standards for our legal transcriptionists. Our legal support team is also experienced within the industry and ready to answer your questions. To view a legal transcription sample or learn more about our solutions for the legal industry, reach out to Verbit today.