Legal professionals are actively searching for insights on the impact of digital transformation on their roles and workloads. The legal industry is at a turning point. Due to the growing shortage of stenographers, professionals must embrace digital transformation, not fear it.

Many legal professionals are already turning to technology to meet industry demands, remain competitive and service more clients. However, new technologies and the challenges and unknowns they present undoubtedly leave legal professionals hesitant or with pressing questions on the future of the industry.

Verbit recently produced a webinar, Ask The Legal Expert to explore the pressing questions of our audience of legal professionals. We enlisted Anthony Sirna, Legal Strategist and Customer Success Manager at Verbit, to address their questions. Sirna has over 20 years of experience in legal and the implementation of technology. He currently oversees the legal vertical at Verbit.

The webinar explored Artificial Intelligence technologies and their future implications, the process of digital transcription, challenges faced by today’s stenographers and how to service more clients with technology.

Sirna also delved into legal disruption as occurring not just in the US problems, but in Europe and the United Kingdom as well. In 2012, The Ministry of Justice, phased out live reporting in the Royal Courts and went more digital, he said.

“This is just an ongoing trend, and it’s going to go global and continue to increase. The trend of digital reporting and digital in legal is a global phenomenon now,” Sirna said.

Exploring AI Technologies

The webinar explored how digital applications in the legal industry are here to stay. The capabilities of AI will grow rapidly and the adoption of AI is going to be broad-based across the legal industry, in law firms and courts, Sirna said.

Sirna also spoke of how courts are now looking to AI to mine cases, to understand criminal histories and make cases more accessible to litigants.

“We’re seeing tremendous inroads within legal technology that support law firms. Artificial Intelligence is being looked at in e-discovery to make that process quicker and more cost effective. AI is also being considered for case management. We’ve seen digital technology being utilized in the courtroom with trial presentation software like summation.”

Sirna also referenced The Speech-to-Text Institute’s estimation that by 2040, there will be a significant shift to Automatic Speech Recognition technology and AI-based legal transcription as the predominant model with certified editors.

“The future of AI is growth, and it’s going to be very quick over the next two to five years,” Sirna said.

Sirna also talked through the cost differential of using a digital court reporter versus a traditional stenographer.

“Some [geographic] areas have greater shortage than others. Consider the business cost to your agency by not changing your operational model to support digital growth. Therefore, there are two costs to consider – hard cost, but then opportunity cost or opportunity loss,” Sirna said.

Accuracy of Legal AI Technologies

Accuracy of AI-based tools also appeared to be top of mind to the webinar viewers.

Digital court reporting produces accurate transcripts that legal professionals can rely on, Sirna said. He noted an AAERT whitepaper, which looked at the difference between live reporting, stenographic reporting, and digitally-derived audio recording transcripts. The transcripts were at parity and all states have recognized that digital reporting is an alternative and an equally viable way of getting a transcript, he said.

Sirna also spoke about Verbit’s method of utilizing its Automatic Speech Recognition machine to achieve accuracy. The engine provides Verbit with a working draft, which is automatically transcribed word-by-word. The produced transcript then goes through human editing levels for proofing and scoping to ensure the highest accuracy, he said.

Sirna took a point to stress that technology will not replace the human factor. Combining technology with human-delivered services, such as fact checking, offers the best way to address scalability challenges in the face of a dwindling supply of stenographers, while still ensuring quality.

What To Consider: Tools & Providers

Sirna said the best digital capture tools allow users to capture log notes.

“This functionality allows you to say on the record or off the record at a particular time stamp or note exhibit marks. An effective tool will allow you to make these indications all within the application face itself. Strong tools also help to optimize audio and work with you on making your audio clear through various technical filters and mixtures. There’s a lot of fine tuning of the audio that you can do for different types of rooms and different proceedings.”

Sirna also recommended working with a provider that can customize the transcription process to meet your unique requirements.

Clients should be able to define how they need their transcripts written for their particular proceedings (ie: deposition versus a hearing for Georgia versus ones in Florida). The right provider should be able to follow your guidelines and create custom templates to meet your needs, he said.

Benefits & On-Demand Link

For court reporting and legal agencies, the application of AI to transcription efforts can reduce overhead costs, result in quicker turnaround of transcripts and increase operational capacity to serve more clients, Sirna said.

“Attorneys and law firms are becoming more comfortable with technology,” Sirna said. “The expectation now, particularly among younger attorneys and younger litigants coming into the profession is that they’re used to technologies and expect things on demand. They’re used to not having a paralegal, so they’re looking for digital solutions and are comfortable with them.”

When considering making the move to digital or getting stakeholder buy-in, Sirna suggested starting with below the line cases, or those with lower economic value, such as insurance cases.

“It can be difficult to get those proceedings serviced by live reporters or stenographers in certain geographic areas. They’re being serviced much more by digital as a result,” Sirna said. “Highlighting specific use cases where digital can cut costs and be helpful in specific scenarios is a smart way to go about making the move to your firm.”

Watch the full webinar video on-demand here.