What Is a Certified Legal Transcript?

A certified legal transcript means the individual or company that transcribes a court or legal document is willing to stand behind their work and even testify to the authenticity and accuracy of their transcription work. 

Obtaining a certified legal transcript is vital for many reasons. Unfortunately, it’s becoming challenging to find transcription companies willing or capable of standing behind their legal transcription work. 

When selecting a company to transcribe legal audio files, courtroom proceedings, or depositions, make sure the transcription company is capable of certifying your transcripts.

Court transcripts should be certified to ensure everything that transpired during a legal proceeding is transcribed exactly as it occurred. Legal transcripts include courtroom proceedings such as trials and hearings, as well as off-site depositions. 

You may be asking yourself, “What is a certified legal transcript, and why is it important?” 

Any transcription of a legal proceeding – including trials, hearings, and depositions – is deemed “certified” when the person transcribing those legal documents signs a form indicating that the transcribed file is accurate and transcribed precisely as it was recorded. In other words, the person and company producing the transcription are willing to stand behind their work.

At Ditto Transcripts, our legal transcribers certify their legal transcripts by signing the following statement:

certified legal transcript

Judges and courts will accept only certified transcripts for appeals or when reviewing a legal proceeding is necessary. Legal proceedings are sometimes extremely complicated. How a witness, defendant, or attorney says something is sometimes just as important as what they say. That’s why it’s imperative to retain a transcription company that guarantees the accuracy of their work.

Certified legal transcripts can be obtained from a transcription company or a court reporting service. 

Unfortunately, not all transcription companies are willing or capable of certifying your legal transcription. The primary reason some companies are unwilling to certify their legal transcripts is that they choose to employ and use court transcriptionists that are not U.S. citizens or their transcriptionists reside in a foreign country.

At Ditto Transcripts, we require the following of all transcriptionists: 

  • They reside in the U.S. and have legal citizenship
  • Have previous experience transcribing legal proceedings
  • Undergo a thorough criminal background check
  • Are willing to certify any legal document they transcribe
  • Our accuracy standard for legal transcriptionists is 99%
  • Will testify under oath if called upon

We recommend that anyone needing a certified legal transcript personally speak with someone in management to discuss the details of your order. 

Do I have to order a court transcript from a court reporter?

certified legal transcription

In most cases, no. Judges and courts will accept certified transcriptions from either a transcription or court reporting company. However, a few judges will only accept certified legal transcripts from a court reporting company. Make certain you confirm this with the court clerk’s office when you order the audio file you want to be transcribed. 

Using a court reporter versus a court transcription services company

Most everyone has either seen movies or TV shows that depict a trial or legal proceeding where a court reporter is seated near the witness stand, typing on a stenograph machine that records everything that is said or happens during the court proceeding.

Court reporters undergo two to three years of school and training to acquire the certification and skills necessary to capture everything during a legal proceeding in real-time. After a trial or hearing, the court reporter will then compile everything captured and produce a written transcript that can be reviewed by judges, attorneys, or other interested parties. 

Legal transcripts are vital when cases are appealed to higher courts or reviewed by legal scholars. 

However, court reporters are not physically present for all legal proceedings. Today, some judges, courts, and attorneys rely on audio and video technology to record what occurs in a courtroom. If needed, audio recordings can be used later to transcribe the court proceedings into a written document, using the specific legal format required by the court.

When attorneys, their clients, or other interested parties need a certified typed transcript, they should either use the services of a court reporting firm or a reputable transcription company.

So, why should you use a transcription company over a court reporting service?

The two primary reasons is usually money and turnaround time. Most court reporters charge at least $150 per hour. Reputable transcription companies capable of producing certified legal transcriptions are generally 25 to 50 percent less expensive.

At Ditto Transcripts, our legal transcription rates range between $1.50 and $5.00 per audio minute. 

Legal transcription prices fall into three classifications based on the turnaround time, the number of speakers, and the audio quality. The most common legal transcription services request we receive is for 3-5 business days turnaround time, with 4+ speakers, and verbatim, which costs $3.25 per audio minute.

Typing Rates

Most legal transcriptions fall into either B or C because they have three or more speakers, typically using complex legal words and phrases requiring legal experience to transcribe correctly.

The other major advantage to using a transcription company vs a court reporting company is turnaround time. Depending on your needs and the complexity of the audio file, we can produce your certified transcript within a few hours to a few days. Court reporters usually take around 30 days to produce written legal transcripts. 

That’s why it’s vital that you confirm the process for ordering audio files with the court clerk’s office. Also, make sure you understand the court’s rules before ordering certified court transcriptions.

Enacted by Congress, the Freedom of Information Act only applies to federal government agencies. Sometimes individual states have created laws that dictate the availability of audio and video legal proceedings and the corresponding transcripts. Audio or video files may not be available from some small municipal courts since they may not use the appropriate technology. 

Judges can also restrict access to court transcripts if they deem the information will violate a person’s rights or that the information discussed is too sensitive for the general public to acquire. Cases where sensitive medical information is discussed or information about ongoing civil or criminal investigations are examples.

Not every transcription company is capable or willing to certify their legal transcriptions. 

One of the main reasons is because many transcription companies choose to employ transcriptionists who reside in foreign countries. Also, these same companies often allow multiple transcriptionists to work on the same document. 

When multiple people work on the same legal document, especially if they are not U.S. citizens with an understanding of our legal system, the accuracy rate often suffers greatly. That’s one reason some transcription companies cannot certify their legal transcripts.

At Ditto Transcripts, we take pride in our work, including quality assurance and dedicated account managers for every single client.

When you need a certified court transcription, please contact us via our website contact form or call us at (720) 287-3710.

Looking For A Transcription Service?

Ditto Transcripts is a U.S.-based HIPAA and CJIS compliant company with experienced U.S. transcriptionists. Learn how we can help with your next project!