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What Is Legal Transcription?

Nov 20, 2007
Legal transcription has come into the public view recently being recognized for its efficient and professional influence on legal records and is steadily becoming a popular trend in the legal field. Legal transcriptionists, much like their counterparts in the medical field, listen to dictations from legal professionals and type them into documents that are edited and grammatically correct. These transcriptionists generally listen to testimonies, interrogations, court hearings, and pleadings, after which they compose what they heard into an easily understood document that will turn into record.

Legal transcriptionists generally work for larger firms or private practice attorneys who have a large number of cases. They are also widely used by large corporations, governmental departments, insurance companies, and banks that all have a need for more accurate legal records. A large number of transcriptionists work for the U.S. government attempting to establish a more organized and complete record system.

In order to be good legal transcriptionists, individuals should have a solid understanding of legal terminology. They should have impeccable grammar and a good command of the English language. After transcriptions are complete they become legal records that are extremely useful to lawyers when they are researching to win a case. Thanks to these transcriptionists, legal records are now more clearly written and thorough. The lawyers and paralegals who wrote the records before were often too busy to make sure the records were exact.

The job market is unique in that there is little competition and plenty of jobs. This fact is most likely due to the overwhelming need for accurate and more advanced legal records to help businesses keep better records and provide their clients with more protection. Other ways legal transcriptionists are hired is by companies that choose to outsource the work for lower costs and increased quality. By outsourcing, companies will generally have a quicker turnaround rate as well because they are dividing jobs across the board rather than giving them all to one particular person. However, there has been a growing trend that has threatened the U.S. job market slightly. Many overseas companies have begun to lend their services to U.S. companies for less money and with a quicker turnaround. These companies, with the majority being found in India, have obtained many U.S. clients who choose their services for the lower costs and to get more records completed. Yet, the news is not all bad. Many other businesses look to legal transcriptionists in the U.S. because they have a better understanding of the laws and the English language, a quality that the overseas companies cannot offer.

Although no formal training is required to become a legal transcriptionist, many companies require a basic knowledge of legal terminology and excellent grammatical skills. They also tend to gravitate toward individuals who have prior experience in the medical field, writing, or an extensive knowledge of English. However, there is a new trend in legal transcription that is lowering the chances of less qualified individuals getting jobs. Many companies are hiring retired lawyers to join their team and write up new records. These individuals are good candidates for legal transcription because they know the legal lingo, the laws, and generally people in the business to help them get started. They also have the added advantage of knowing precisely what is needed in files and what is unnecessary.

Although they play a key role in the security and development of better legal records, legal transcriptionists are often underappreciated. The legal transcription field has not yet gained support from governmental organizations as medical transcriptionists have, but their role as newcomers to the business is likely to blame. Despite that, legal transcriptionists are steadily becoming permanent fixtures on law firm and government department payrolls and the need for their services will likely continue to grow even more.
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