Legal transcriptions are in a league of its own in the world of converting audio files to text. With an insurmountable amount of information and fact-exchange to reach a verdict between two opposing parties, using legal transcription services is the norm for attorneys, lawyers and anyone with legal authority. Legal transcriptions help increase efficiency and organization at work making it easier to build cases and gather facts and evidences. As a result, legal practitioners are able save money and time so they can focus on what they do best. Due to the nature of legal proceedings in court, accuracy is extremely vital.
Hence, verbatim transcripts are requested, requiring transcripts to include each and every utterance such as ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’, and sometimes even non-verbal cues determined from live interactions or video recordings. In addition, transcriptionists working on any type of legal transaction must have swift typing skills and has to be familiar with specific terminologies. Attaining certain certifications for court reporting and legal transcription might also be a requirement, albeit it is not as strict compared with stenographers. The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT) offer legal certifications and some states require these before passing the work to transcription services.
Legal transcription services are important and generally offer several types of services, all of which are used in varying frequency depending on specific cases. The benefit of transcriptions is evident in any legal work and transaction but it differs in the area it’s required.
Types of Legal Transcription Services
These are submitted in the early stages of a case. A pleading is a formal written statement wherein a given party submits their claims or defenses. This statement essentially forms the basis of the case, and the issues to be argued about. A typical pleading is usually one wherein the plaintiff submits a complaint stating cause of action. The defendant then forwards an answer stating his or her defenses, or a counterclaim against the plaintiff.
Arguably all legal transcription services offer transcriptions of pleadings — this is where the basic facts to be argued about are stated and where a whole case begins. Therefore, it can be considered as the most important of all legal documents.
Subpoenas and Summons
Subpoenas are legal documents issued by a court that requires one party to appear before it in order to either testify or to bring physical evidence that can be used in the case. Meanwhile, summonses are legal documents informing a person that a case has been filed against him, therefore his presence is needed at the court at a specific time and date. Subpoenas and summonses can be given to transcription services in the form of note-taking work, saving time by being organized, and keeping legal professionals creating cases, instead of spending time looking for details like who testified or presented in court.
A sworn statement is a document that provides facts required in a legal proceeding. These statements are made in lieu of testimonies given in court, which, although allowing for greater fairness and the likelihood of obtaining truth, are expensive, time-consuming, an d rather troublesome to arrange. On the other hand, sworn statements are made without the presence of a notary public, but do include a paragraph indicating that it was made under penalty of perjury. Transcripts are practically required when dealing with sworn statements, being a part of a deposition. Transcripts help build the validity of sworn statements, they can also be used as evidence in court in place of a testimony.
A deposition is defined simply as a witness’s sworn out-of-court testimony. They are mostly used by attorneys for gathering information and building their case, hence lawyers find deposition transcriptions to be exceptionally helpful in getting facts. If done by a quality legal transcription service, these transcriptions become a powerful tool with the usage of details in court and present better and stronger arguments.
Recordings of witnesses or suspects being questioned by a legal authority can be an effective tool in facilitating an on-going case. Law enforcement personnel such as police officers often require their recordings to be transcribed by a legal transcription service verbatim to study a suspect’s behavior. Defendants may be interrogated separately from a court proceeding and have their conversation transcribed by legal authorities as accurate as possible to study possible lapses in their speech patterns, facial expressions and even their non-verbal signals such as head nods and determine their intentions.
These recordings are usually prioritized to transcribe, much like wiretaps and telephone recordings. If done by a quality legal transcription service, it can dictate the proceedings in court by noting the small details captured in audio to text. Many legal professionals work on analyzing nuances, non-verbal cues and utterances to put arguments or issues to light. Law enforcement individuals not only utilize these transcripts to study a suspect’s behavior and are also kept for archiving.
The term “hearing” is a bracket term which refers to a number of legal proceedings done in front of a judge or magistrate without the presence of a jury. Hearings are considered more informal ways of resolving disputes as they often do not share the more restrictive nature of such legal proceedings as a trial. Hearings include arbitration hearings, court hearings, administrative hearings, judicial hearings, among others.
Although informal, transcription of hearings in a text format may prove fruitful to note witness testimonies, cross-examinations of each witnesses of both sides in court and their defense as these provide a good amount of in-depth information about the case, especially if studied by upcoming students of the law. On the other hand, it gives legal authorities a certain point of reference as to where the court is proceeding and utilizes these hearings to plan and strategize their next step in court.
Wiretaps and Phone Calls
Legal interception and monitoring of phone calls and recording them are just some of the surveillance methods used by legal authorities to build a case. Much like interrogations, these are transcribed verbatim to study speech patterns or important details that would be essential for legal disputes as phone calls and wiretaps are needed to solidify presented statements and evidences. Naturally, transcription requests of this nature demand a higher rate and are almost coveted in a sense amongst transcription services. Verbatim transcripts of this nature are usually given only to the best of the best legal transcriptionists and as its mantra goes, it should be as close to 100% accuracy.
Memorandums are informal notes that can be used in a legal proceeding to prove that an agreement or a certain kind of contract was made between two parties in agreement. Taking note of each memorandum in legal proceedings is paramount to keep statements presented in court on track and cohesive in parties involved in the argument and they can easily be recalled when being presented in court as a physical document.
Dictations, Meetings, and Conferences
Legal professionals are time-constrained all the time when working up their case, pouring over notes and facts, as well as attend court proceedings. To save time and focus their attention at work they dictate important notes, documents and reports that are worth looking at on a later time and rely on transcription services to having these transcribed, ready for further analysis. Meetings and conferences can also be transcribed in text, bringing out the keywords that may prove to be useful or to take note of during meet ups with clients or workers. It not only saves time for the legal professionals but it also eases the workload to focus more on creating arguments and debates for the case.
Although very helpful, it is not always transcription companies that produce transcripts for court and legal proceedings; legal transcription services may be cheaper and practical, there are some firms and as some are very keen on keeping their cases in-house, hiring their own legal transcriptionists. Nevertheless, establishing a good business partnership with a good and quality transcription service to handle legal transcriptions prove well to be an asset in easing the ever pressing workload of those who study and practice the law.