Legal Transcription: How Legal Transcripts Are Used in Court Proceedings And Law Firms

Legal transcription is crucial as it offers detailed records of court proceedings. Transcripts can refresh one’s memory or allow one to cross-examine a witness whose testimony contradicts their prior statements. They can also be used as evidence for ongoing or future cases. However, legal transcripts require high levels of precision, as any error, regardless of scale, can cause severe issues. That’s why it’s essential to know how you get your legal transcripts and who makes them for you. 

In this article, you’ll learn how:

  • Transcripts are used in court hearings, depositions, interrogations, dictations, and various proceedings.
  • The benefits of transcripts include highlighting key details, organized content, and supporting legal strategies.
  • Human-powered legal transcription is the best way to ensure accuracy for law firms and other legal professionals, as automated tools are inaccurate. 

Legal transcription involves turning spoken words from legal proceedings like court proceedings, hearings, depositions, and interviews into written documents, though not just the typical spoken word.

Here are some of the most common instances in which legal transcripts are admissible.

Case ScenarioImportance of Transcription
Court Hearings and TrialsProvides accurate records for legal proceedings, aiding in judgments, appeals, and legal actions.
DepositionsEnsures precise documentation of witness testimonies for legal strategies and evidence presentation.
Police InterviewsServes as evidence in criminal investigations and court cases, aiding in understanding events and identifying inconsistencies.
Legal Dictations and MemorandaFacilitates accurate documentation of legal matters, enhancing communication and record-keeping within legal organizations.
Arbitration and Mediation ProceedingsDocuments negotiation processes and settlement terms, aiding in dispute resolution and decision enforcement.
Witness Testimonies in Administrative HearingsAssists in evaluating claims, determining liability, and ensuring procedural fairness in administrative proceedings.
Legal Conferences and SeminarsProvides reference materials for professional development and research by documenting insights shared by legal experts.

Benefits Of Using Transcripts For Court Cases

Sure enough, using transcripts for court cases has many benefits. Below are some of the most useful benefits of using high-quality legal transcripts. 

Clear Communication

In court proceedings, communication is everything, and verbatim transcripts can help ensure that everything that was said is recorded. They provide a textual representation of the spoken and non-spoken audio of both the proceedings and spoken evidence, facilitating easier access and a clear understanding.

Lawyers then analyze these documents to pinpoint important details, such as testimonies and legal events, that can help refine their case strategies.

Highlights Important Details

Highlighting key quotes or keywords in transcripts helps attorneys prepare, craft targeted questions, and identify sections relevant to their focus. This reduces the time needed to prepare and the level of legal analysis required, as lawyers can focus on the most pertinent parts of the record.

Organizes Content To Make It Searchable

Legal professionals juggle a mountain of information as part of the job. Organized and searchable content can help them navigate and stay on point. Thankfully, legal transcripts offer a clear structure that eliminates the need to go through hours of recordings – unlike audio or video. 

Further, well-designed folder structures can help legal professionals with access, pairing it with search functionalities to enable fast retrieval of information using keywords or phrases. This accessibility allows legal professionals to focus on what matters most—building a winning case— instead of getting bogged down with paperwork.

It Can Be Used As Support

For legal professionals, transcripts can be helpful companions throughout proceedings. The detailed records of the case it provides can help legal professionals better understand the facts presented. This supports lawyers in questioning parties, extracting statements, and case management.

On top of that, lawyers can revisit testimonies or formulate appeals with the help of legal transcripts – ensuring thorough client representation.

Let’s start this section off with a story: 

A guilty man named Cody DeShield was freed decades earlier than he was supposed to because the court records were incorrectly transcribed. DeShield spent 36 months instead of 36 years in jail. He then proceeded to commit another violent crime before getting captured. Only then did the error come to life. 

Accurate court transcripts are necessary to maintain the sanctity and integrity of our criminal justice system. That’s why it’s important to get the most accurate transcription you can. Here are other essential reasons why accuracy is crucial in legal transcription. 

Helps Lawyers Plan Before Trials

Reviewing an accurate legal transcript before a trial is critical for lawyers. It helps them map out their strategy and prepare for the case’s twists and turns.

Civil trials typically last 10 to 30 hours, while criminal trials can vary from 6.5 to 23 hours or more. It’s a long, grueling process, and the preparation takes longer. 

A deep understanding of the case helps legal professionals pinpoint crucial moments, predict what the other side might argue, and highlight the most important parts of the testimony without letting a second slide. 

Fortunately, lawyers can refresh their memory on the details with an accurate legal transcript, and more importantly, they can focus on the nuances of what was said.

Helps Lawyers Formulate Questions

During the trial, having a full deposition transcript at the lawyer’s fingertips allows them to pinpoint statements that require further clarification.

Again, accurate legal transcripts also enable lawyers to make informed decisions about which questions to present to the jury and, conversely, which ones to allow the opposing party to raise.

Setting Trial Atmosphere

Setting the atmosphere in a courtroom is also a factor to consider when presenting evidence. Fortunately, accurate legal transcripts have a dual purpose: to document spoken words and to capture emotional undertones during testimonies.

Now, if lawyers can focus on the tone and cadence of a deposition, they can gain insights into the emotional state of witnesses – which can significantly impact the overall trial.

It Can Be Used As Evidence When Planning For Appeals

Though appeals can be daunting, accurate legal transcripts can be your strongest evidence as they are a verified record of everything that transpired in court. 

Transcripts allow you to review the proceedings, look for procedural errors, or pinpoint instances where arguments were overlooked. They become your platform to build a strong case for a new hearing, highlighting potential shortcomings in the original outcome.

Can Automated Transcriptions Be Used For Court Proceedings?

Accuracy is important in legal transcription, and I believe I’ve made that point in the last thousand words. Sadly, accuracy—or lack thereof— is also the main reason AI is unsuitable for legal transcription.

You see, automated transcription programs have only reached 86% accuracy. That might be negligible when recording personal notes or a quick dictation on what you want to do after work hours.

However, when you put it into the context of a ten-thousand-word legal memorandum, you’re looking at combing through pages and pages to look for 1,400 errors

That’s… quite a problem. Consider Cody DeShield’s case: the transcription error was practically less than 1% (“months” instead of “years”), and yet the kid managed to stave off jail time and commit another heinous crime while he was out. 

Inaccurate transcription has heavy implications, and AI is not accurate. It won’t take a lawyer to arrive at the most relevant conclusion. 

Worried about your legal transcription? Don’t be. Sign up for Ditto’s legal transcription services and get the best in the industry. 

Our services include:

  • High Accuracy: Our professional human transcription service provides the highest possible levels of accuracy, as close to perfection as they come.
  • Flexible Turnaround Times: Depending on the project, we can provide rush transcripts within one or two days for those who need things done quickly.
  • Stringent Security Measures: Our CJIS compliance and robust encryption protocols will protect your confidential information optimally. We’ll answer any questions you have about our security and will be more than happy to provide proof of certification.
  • Proven Track Record: We’ve been providing high-quality transcription services to the legal industry since 2021. So, rather than relying on untested providers or fancy AI tools, put your trust in our long, proven history.
  • Flexibility: Need timestamps or verbatim transcripts? Say the word, and we’ll get it done.
  • No Long-term Contracts: Pay for what you need, when you need it, without worrying about getting tied up with long-term service commitments (though I guarantee your firm will be back for more.)

Contact Us So We Can Help You With Our Services

Refine your legal proceedings with Ditto Transcripts! Our expert team offers 99% accuracy, quick turnaround times, and top-notch security for all your transcription needs. With over 14 years of experience, Ditto Transcripts is your top choice for precise, high-quality, and affordable transcription services.

Ditto Transcripts is a Denver, Colorado-based, HIPAA, FINRA, & CJIS-compliant transcription services company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcripts for individuals and companies of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial.

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