Certified court transcription is vital because the accuracy, or lack thereof, of a court transcript could impact the outcome of a case. For a legal or court audio recording to be certified in the court’s eyes, the person who transcribed the audio recording must sign a statement that they listened to and accurately transcribed the legal recording. The certification statement also states that the transcriptionist will appear in court to testify to its authenticity.
That’s why it’s essential to select a transcription company that is capable of certifying their legal transcription work.
Judges on a trial bench, appeals court, and supreme courts only trust and use legal transcriptions that meet certification guidelines. The quality of certified legal transcripts is vital to how a court may change or render a verdict in a civil or criminal matter.
Not All Transcription Companies Can Certify Their Transcripts
It’s easy to assume that all transcription companies can certify legal proceedings. However, some companies that advertise legal transcription services aren’t capable of certifying court and legal transcriptions.
There are a couple of reasons why. Some companies use transcriptionists in foreign countries. Understanding legal terminology, words, and phrases is difficult for U.S. citizens. Just imagine the difficulty that a transcriptionist in another country would encounter if given a real legal transcription project.
Even the most highly skilled U.S. legal transcriptionist would find it difficult to transcribe a legal case conducted in a foreign language.
Also, some of these same companies use multiple transcriptionists to transcribe portions of the same audio recording. It’s challenging enough when one transcriptionist works on a legal audio recording. Now imagine when several transcriptionists work on the same audio recordings, the opportunity for mistakes increases tenfold.
Companies such as Ditto Transcripts that are capable of transcribing legal and court proceedings usually have two traits in common. They use experienced transcriptionists specializing in legal proceedings who execute their tasks with a distinct methodology compared to medical transcriptionists. Moreover, their transcriptionists are U.S. citizens whose primary language is English.
Ditto Transcripts is also Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) compliant. Clients can rest assured that their privacy and security needs are met when our experienced legal transcriptionists handle your project.
Do Court Transcripts Need to Be Certified?
Practically every type of legal proceeding can require a certified transcription. Hearings, trials, depositions, jury selections, and sentencing hearings may require transcription services.
Besides legal proceedings in a courtroom setting, attorneys and their clients request certified court transcriptions for many purposes. Examples include arbitration hearings, interrogations, interviews, phone call recordings, corporate meetings to discuss legal matters, administrative hearings, and workers compensation hearings.
In 2020, the need for certified court transcription significantly increased since many legal matters were handled outside the courtroom or attorney’s office. That’s just one of several reasons why choosing a qualified legal transcription company that uses only legal transcriptionists trained and capable of certifying legal transcriptions is vital.
To understand the importance of certified court transcription, it’s also vital to understand a legal transcriptionist’s qualifications and our hiring process.
Qualifications For a Certified Legal Transcriptionist
At Ditto Transcripts, all our legal transcriptionists capable of certifying legal transcriptions are U.S. citizens and have a thorough understanding of legal terminology and the legal process.
More importantly, each must pass a thorough criminal background check before being offered employment. That’s why Ditto Transcripts exclusively hires experienced legal transcriptionists who live in and work in the U.S. to handle our legal clients.
Also, in order to be CJIS compliant the transcriptionists must be U.S. citizens working on U.S. soil. The cheap transcription companies out there do not use U.S. based transcriptionists, that’s why they are so cheap.
Successful legal transcriptionists must develop extremely advanced typing skills. Experienced legal transcriptionists type over 75 words per minute (wpm) with few if any errors. Superb concentration and listening skills are also necessary. For example, 30 minutes of recorded audio of a hearing or legal proceeding can take three times longer to transcribe for an experienced transcriptionist.
Legal transcriptionists also use specialized equipment to help them produce accurate certified transcriptions as quickly as possible. For example, transcriptionists use the best headsets available and specialized software programs. They also use foot pedals to rewind and fast forward, which helps them keep their hands on the keyboard, if they need to relisten to a portion of the audio to transcribe every word and detail accurately.
How Much Do Court Transcriptionists Make?
In 2022, experienced legal transcriptionists who work full-time can earn over $60,000 annually. And one benefit is almost all legal transcriptionists work from the comfort of their home.
You may think that given the popularity of artificial intelligence (AI) programs, the number of legal transcriptionists is declining. However, because transcribing certified legal transcriptions require a high degree of accuracy, the need for human transcriptionists remains.
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that the need for legal transcriptionists between now and 2029 will increase by at least 10 percent.
Do They Need a Degree to Become a Legal Transcriptionist?
No. Legal transcriptionists come from many backgrounds and education levels. Besides superior typing and listening skills, the best way to become an expert legal transcriptionist is to practice and perfect your skills by transcribing legal and court proceedings.
There are several online training programs available to begin a career in legal transcription. On average, transcription training programs range from 6-18 months. In addition to learning basic and advanced transcription skills, most courses also teach legal terminology and courtroom procedures.
Individuals with prior legal experience working as legal secretaries or paralegals often make excellent transcriptionists. Some legal transcriptionists have law degrees or previous experience as practicing attorneys.
If you have the desire and ability to become a legal transcriptionist and devote the necessary time to studying and practicing the craft, a fulfilling career is available.
Are Court Reporters Required to Certify a Legal Transcription?
In the majority of cases, both court reporters and legal transcriptionists can certify a legal transcription.
In previous years, court reporters performed an essential role in the legal industry. They must complete a rigorous training program and work for years to master their skill. During a trial or hearing, court reporters capture audio in real-time using a stenotype machine using a unique shorthand technique.
Due to the lack of availability and excess costs of using court reporters in every courtroom, most of today’s legal proceedings are recorded using the latest audio and video technology. In these cases, attorneys and their clients can usually use either transcription companies who employ legal transcriptionists or court reporters if they do require a transcription later.
A few judges mandate that court reporting services certify their transcriptions. However, the percentage is small and decreasing, as are qualified court reporters. In 2000 there were an estimated 60,000 working court reporters. In 2018 that number was cut in half, with around 30,000 court reporters in the workforce.
Before ordering a transcription of a legal or courtroom proceeding, it’s best to personally speak with someone in the court clerk’s office that handles the case. They can give the best advice on the court’s rules governing certified transcriptions. They can also give you an estimate of how much the audio recording will cost and the timeframe it can be delivered to you.
Once you obtain the necessary information and understand the court’s guidelines, you can retain a qualified company like Ditto Transcripts to transcribe your audio.
Obtaining a Certified Court Transcription Is Simple
To obtain a certified court transcription, determine the court system handling the case. Then contact the court clerk’s office that oversees the administration of the courts. They will tell you where you can request audio files from. When it’s recorded outside of a courtroom setting you will need to contact your attorney and ask them how you can obtain the audio recording.
Next, contact Ditto Transcripts directly to discuss what you need and when you need it back.
We can accept almost any type of audio file. However, the sound should be sufficient, so our experienced legal transcriptionist can produce a certified legal transcription that meets our high standards as well as the court’s high standards.
Certified legal transcription prices are affordable and could vary depending on your specific needs. The factors that determine the cost of certified legal transcriptions depend on the number of people speaking, the quality of the audio file, and how quickly you will need your transcription back.
Court reporting firms can take up to 30 days to complete a certified legal transcription and charge much higher fees. Our standard turnaround time for most certified court proceedings is three to five business days. If you require expedited turnaround times, let us know and we will fit you in.
Federal, state, and local court systems operate differently. While the transcription method is the same, where and how you obtain the audio file is different.
Contacting and speaking with a senior manager is recommended so that both sides understand precisely the type of work required.
The Freedom of Information Act guarantees access to federal public records. However, judges can protect information that might violate a person’s rights or if disclosing such information might jeopardize a current court case or investigation.
Courts operating under state or local jurisdiction establish their own rules. The Freedom of Information Act applies to federal matters exclusively.
Ditto Transcripts Will Certify Your Court Transcriptions
Our experienced and qualified legal transcriptionists are ready and able to certify all of your legal and court transcriptions.
Because our transcriptionists live in the U.S., we are proud to stand behind our work. Plus, that’s another reason we’re able to certify our legal transcriptions.
If necessary, our transcriptionists will testify under oath to the authenticity, accuracy, and quality of their work. This is what separates us from the other companies that can’t or won’t certify their legal transcriptions, they can’t testify under oath like we can.
Contacting Ditto Transcripts is simple. You can contact us via our website or call us Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Mountain Standard Time at (720) 287-3710.