Legal Transcription Service Turnaround Time: How Long Does It Take?

Speed is essential in legal transcription. It allows lawyers, law students, legal departments, and courts to streamline legal proceedings, conduct research faster, and make case preparation easier. All those benefits depend on how fast your legal transcription provider’s turnaround time is. 

Legal transcription professionals, on average, can transcribe 60 minutes of audio in under 4 hours. Finished transcripts are then subjected to error correction and formatting. With Ditto, the most commonly requested legal transcription turnaround time is 3-5 business days.

However, the process isn’t done in a vacuum. Factors such as audio quality, recording length, and content complexity can affect the turnaround time. Legal transcription companies should be able to address these concerns to meet high-quality legal transcription needs while maintaining quick turnaround times to meet tight deadlines. 

In this article, you’ll learn how:

  • Legal transcription turnaround time can vary depending on factors such as audio quality, recording length, and content complexity.
  • Reputable transcription companies like Ditto Transcripts can guarantee 99% accuracy and deliver transcripts on time or faster, often in less than 24 hours.
  • Automated transcription is inaccurate and should not be used for legal transcription projects.
  • Ditto Transcripts is a HIPAA- and CJIS-compliant, Denver, Colorado-based transcription company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcription services to companies and agencies of all sizes. Contact them today for a free quote and experience the Ditto difference.

Turnaround time refers to the time it takes to transcribe recorded legal audio into written text. Our average turnaround time for legal transcription services is 3-5 business days.

These are standard, but not every transcription service can deliver in these time frames.

Most transcription companies offer different turnaround times to suit their clients’ schedules and budgets, including extended results for lower costs and rush jobs. 

This is a very important feature, as delays can seriously affect legal proceedings. We offer turnaround time options of one to two, three to five, and six to ten business days. However, most transcripts, deposition summaries, and other legal documents are uploaded to our secure platform or sent back within the first 3-5 business days. 

Factors Affecting Turnaround Time

Some transcription companies, like Ditto Transcripts, offer expedited services with turnaround times as fast as a few hours for urgent legal projects. However, lawyers and other legal professionals requiring such timeframes must know that several factors can significantly affect turnaround times. 

Audio or Video Quality

The audio recording quality is one of the most significant factors affecting legal transcription turnaround times. Typists working on transcription can complete them faster with clear audio recordings. 

This clarity can depend on recording equipment quality, background noises, the environment in which the recording was taken, electrical interference, compression rate, type of audio file, and the overall recording technique used.

How people speak, how fast they speak, if they speak over each other, or if someone speaks quietly and away from the microphones can affect audio quality.

However, the right legal transcription service providers understand that audio or video files are not always recorded under the best circumstances. Here at Ditto Transcripts, we utilize specialized tools to enhance the quality of audio files, and our transcriptionists use top-of-the-line video and audio playback equipment to ensure accurate transcription despite issues. 

Speakers, Dialects, And Accents

Another common factor that affects transcription project completion is if the speaker has a different or complex speaking style. It may take a transcriber some time to get familiar with a speaker with a thick accent or an unfamiliar dialect. 

Similarly, extra attention will be required if the legal transcriptionist is working on audio files with four or more speakers or if the speaker talks fast. This is to maintain the flow of information, and the transcript includes every word said. In some cases, multiple overlapping speakers are on the recording, making it harder to determine who’s speaking and what is being said. 

Trials and hearings are notable examples of this, as they involve different people from different backgrounds. Effective legal transcriptionists can deal with such issues using their inherent language proficiency, slow playback options, and vast experience. Indeed, this is how high-quality legal transcription services like Ditto Transcripts can boast an accuracy level of over 99%, ensuring precise and reliable transcriptions.

Transcription Style

Court hearings are full of nuance and context that might be left out in some transcription jobs. You see, there are two styles of transcription: verbatim and cleaned-up verbatim.

Verbatim transcription is a full transcript of everything said, including ums, uhs, stutters, partial words and phrases, etc. This differs from cleaned-up verbatim, which removes unnecessary sounds like laughter, ums, ahs, stutters, or ambient audio. 

Verbatim transcription requires strict attention to detail and requires transcribers to capture every sound and every spoken word. Non-verbatim transcription involves a more selective approach, correcting the grammar while focusing on conveying the overall message.

Attorneys and legal professionals may prefer verbatim transcripts as they present a fuller picture of the court proceedings. This can affect the pricing, though, as verbatim transcription takes longer to complete because of all the extra words, phrases, and utterances that have to be included in the transcripts. 

Professional legal transcription providers know the recordings they need to transcribe will involve legalese. This can complicate matters, as legalese is a sophisticated and admittedly confusing form of communication, full or archaic terms, Latin phrases, overlong statements, and weird sentence structures. 

Experienced court reporters and transcriptionists shouldn’t have too much of a problem with these, but inexperienced or foreign transcription agencies will. Their transcription work will suffer from inaccuracies or extended turnaround times, and since they don’t have the experience, they might fumble other legal transcription requirements like formatting guidelines, speaker labels, and certification. 

Using Transcription Software

Transcription software is any program or platform that can aid in producing the final transcription results from audio or video recordings. These can include macro programs, text expanders, word-processing software, and error-correction platforms. Transcribing audio using the right tools is essential for legal transcription, as it allows transcribers to meet deadlines while maintaining the highest quality results. 

Is AI Transcription A Viable Solution?

Some firms use automated speech recognition software for written transcription—essentially, AI does the transcription for you. Providers tout it as easy, fast, and cheap, but unfortunately, that combination rarely ends well for the transcription industry. 

You see, automated transcription is inaccurate, and the very best of them can only reach up to 86% accuracy. 86% is unacceptable in legal transcription, as transcript errors can have serious repercussions for them and their clients. 

Compare that to a manual transcription provider like Ditto Transcripts, which can guarantee more than 99% accuracy with all projects. 

Automated transcription also doesn’t have document format options. The text will come in one unbroken stream, devoid of punctuation and other important elements, taking more time to fix. 

Some poor paralegal or a transcriber may proofread the work of AI to make it more…acceptable. However, that might take just as long as having a professional transcriptionist work on the audio and video file in the first place: using AI is a waste of time and money. 

Choosing the right outsourced legal transcription provider like Ditto Transcripts can save you from the headache of inaccurate transcripts, ridiculously extended turnaround times, and missed deadlines. 

Fast Now, Slow Later

Another thing that most legal transcription services fail to appreciate is that using AI transcription means they are effectively robbing their transcribers of growth opportunities. 

As mentioned, legal transcription involves various words and phrases specific to the industry. A transcriber manually listening and typing these words will come to know them by heart. They finish projects faster, allowing their companies to offer significantly faster turnaround times. 

A transcriber using automated transcription won’t likely progress in their career, essentially stunting their development in the field. That means they don’t get any faster, which can negatively affect their ability to deliver transcripts on time. 


Despite accepted average time and ranges, legal transcription turnaround time has no hard and fast rules. However, reliable service providers like Ditto Transcripts can assure clients that their transcripts will arrive on time or faster, often in less than 24 hours, and all results will come with our hallmark 99% accuracy guarantee, unrivaled quality, and excellent customer service. Contact us today to see the Ditto difference. 

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

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