Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hi,

My name is Siddharth. I started this blog so that I can help others to learn legal transcription the easy way with less or almost no expenditures.

What is Legal Transcription?

Ans- Transcription means to listen to an audio and to type the words contained in it so that later a print out may be taken so as to help in a case. The audio may be recorded by the attorneys in a recording device such as a smartphone or dedicated recording device of companies such as sony or computer or telephone connected to recording web server etc.

These audios are sent to the legal transcribers who then listen to the audio and type the words contained in the audio.

What is the difference between Legal Transcription, Court Reporting & Steno Typing.

Ans- All the three are more or less same as they all do typing but the major difference between Legal Transcription and Court Reporting is Legal Transcription can be done sitting at a distance such as in home. But the court reporting is done in real time i.e. in front of the speakers when they speak with the help of machines. They type it live with their special machines. Try to google all these three words as they have similar kind of material on internet but not exactly same.

How do I learn Legal Transcription?

Ans- Learning legal transcription is very easy. You just need to be sincere towards your practice as practice is the only way to learn this well. Practice makes mind and ear more habitual to transcription as they both have to work together. With constant practice the person is able to understand the words in the audio better and also helps in increasing the typing speed.

For learning the Legal Transcription from the very beginning, it is important to learn general transcription. General trananscription is typing the words in an audio which does not involve much of legal, medical or any other technical terms. Learning general transcription is extremely easy. For that you need the following-

1) A computer to type with a good keyboard and headphone. Some people also prefer to have a computer foot pedal as it makes controlling the audio easier. Otherwise just keyboard is also sufficient as it can also control audio. You also need a good internet connection as audio files are generally sent through an email or an FTP.

2) You need important softwares for transcription. The best and free transcription software I recommend is Express Scribe (just google it and you can download it for free). Express Scribe has the ability to speed up or slow down the audio playing speed without distorting the pitch or the audio quality. Then you need to have Ms Word so that you can type. Another important software is Switch Sound File Converter which converts different audio formats to mp3 or wav etc. It must be understood that the recording devices that the attorneys may use, may have their own proprietory file format. Therefore in order that Express Scribe may load those audios for transcription, conversion of the audio format is important. Sometimes a transcriber may also have to transcribe audio contained in a video. If Express Scribe is not loading the video then Audacity sound recorder is the solution (which is also free. Please google & download) to record the system sound running on computer. It records any audio running on computer whether it is from a video or rare audio file format. Then the recorded audio from the audacity may be loaded to Express Scribe and transcription may be done.

Now you know the things that are required. Now its time to develop the skill for transcription. As I said practice is the key to learn transcription. It is good to do a Legal Transcription course but it will not be of any use if you don't practice it. It is better to learn legal transcription at home for no cost. Doing a legal transcription course is always good but if you want to save money and train yourself then do what I say and perhaps you will be able to learn it without spending much.

How to acquire Legal Transcription Skills?

Ans- Difference between general transcription and legal transcription is general transcription does not have any technical legal terms but in legal transcription, you must be able to understand technical legal terms.

To learn general transcription it is better to download audio and use Express Scribe to transcribe. For that audios from the podcasts or webcasts may be downloaded. Podcasts are audios in which a person records the audio and puts it on internet so that others could listen to it. Google search the terms such as Download Legal Podcast or Podcast etc. Once you download it ( may be with the help of itunes software), you can load it on the Express Scribe and start practicing transcription on it as per your typing speed. The more typing speed you have, the more you will be able to type per day and thus more money you can earn. Thus podcast is a good way to learn transcription. Now the difficulty is to check what you have transcribed is correct or not. Therefore the need arises to have websites that have audio as well as the key (documents having typed words of the audio to check).

Once you learn general transcription you can take a course on "legal terminology" from websites such as www.universalclass.com . They charge about $50 for the course. I don't know much about this course as I have not tried it. I already know legal terminology.

So now you know how to transcribe a general audio and you also have information about legal terminologies. Now you are little more capable than earlier before to transcribe the legal audios. DON'T worry if transcribing audios take hours for you as it takes more than one hour to transcribe a 15 minute audio for a beginner as the audios have to be repeated several times to understand the words. practice will make you better. Always give some time to practice transcription everyday depending on your ability.

Do not frustrate if you are not able to work well. It happens to every beginner. But when you keep on practicing, the roughness will become smooth.

A legal transcriber can fix rates as per wish but mostly it is more than $1 per minute of audio to be transcribed.

There are websites which may guide you well-

www.freelancetranscriptionistroad.com - I learnt several things from here which inspired me to write this blog. Please go through it thoroughly. It is a very good website.

There are websites from where you can get free practice legal transcription audio sample-

http://www.nch.com.au/scribe/practice.html- a website that contains transcription softwares and also audio samples along with keys. Please go through it properly
www.stenospeed.com- has audio and also the key
www.aei.org- in search box search for "Audio". It has recorded versions of conferences etc. for practice.
www.stenotube.com- under categories see practice dictation
www.simplysteno.com- see free dictations
www.youtube.com- an excellent website where million of materials are there which can be transcribed. It also has channels such as of Stenolife which has some videos on deposition dictation which can be transcribed (search Stenolife in Youtube).

I also forgot to mention that legal transcription can be of several types such as letter, memo, agreement, pleadings, deposition, client statement etc.


Once you transcribe, check and proofread whether you have done it correctly. Check for grammatical mistakes also.

There are also second hand old books available in the market which teaches legal transcription. Search in the second hand old book websites as you will get them there for cheap. It is highly recommended to purchase transcription books which also has practice CDs with them as it will allow you to practice transcription. It appears to me that the book "Legal Office Project (with CD) by Diane M Gilmore can be of help but I am not sure as never tried. Please review the book hear if you have read as to whether it is helpful or not. The book contains a CD and also have some content inside it on legal transcription (as appeared to me from several websites).


The format of the transcription may somewhat look like this (I acknowledge that I borrowed these from the article "Process of Legal Transcription", July 18, 2011 By Janis Bennett from the website www.freelancetranscriptionistroad.com.) -

A is to be read as Attorney and W as the Witness.
A. Did You receive the copy of the same letter?
W. Yes I did.
A. Do You remember the Date of receiving it?
W. According to the records of our Office it was received on 25th of January, 2005.
A. Did the other company receive the same letter?
W. Same letter? Ok Umnn. Yes they also received the copy of the same letter. But at that time we were not aware of the financial conditions of “L&M Co.
Other websites that may also be helpful is as follows-


There is a software called Phrase Express- it helps to type faster with the help of auto complete options.


I hope these might be helpful. If you have some tips on legal transcription or if you know website where practice legal dictation may be found, please share your knowledge for the betterment of others.

Thank You & All the Best,

Regards,
Siddharth


Update-

There is also a legal transcription course by Janet Shaughnessy. She runs zoomtranscription.com and the course is for about $99. Google it and you will find more. Some of her courses are also available in amazon.com. She also has a website. Her second hand and old books are also available on ebay.


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