Should You Hire a Court Reporter or a Transcriptionist?

Although court reporters and legal transcriptionists have very similar jobs, there are distinct differences between the two professions. So should you engage the services of a court reporter or a legal transcriptionist?

Court reporters

Court reporters (also called stenographers, shorthand reporters or law reporters) are in the courtroom to provide real-time reporting. Their job is one of speed – they type a transcript of legal proceedings as they happen, so the document is almost ready immediately after the conclusion of a hearing or trial. Real-time reporting is also used in some other fields outside the legal profession, such as television (closed captioning) and public events. Court reporters are typically hired as direct employees of a court.

Legal Transcriptionists

Transcriptionist’s work also relies on speed, however there are some key differences between a legal transcriptionist and a court reporter.

Transcriptionists work off a recording of an event – trial, lecture, etc. – to produce a written document of the proceedings. This document can be either verbatim (which is word-for-word, like what court reporters type,) or lightly edited (taking out ums, ahs, breaks in speaking, etc.,) depending on the needs of the client. Transcriptionists usually work on a conditional or contract basis – they are not full-time employees but rather independent contractors. They get paid for the work they do, usually by audio minute or number of lines they type, not salary.

Transcriptionists can be self-employed or work for a transcription company. If they work for a transcription company, the transcriptionists usually have access to technological systems court reporters don’t have – cloud hosting for documents, online system for downloading and completing dictations, etc. This is important, as there have been court cases overturned due to court reporters losing the transcript and recording of a trial.

Transcriptionists also provide services for a variety of other fields outside the legal field, including medical, law enforcement, academic, financial, business and more. Transcriptionists even take work from individuals – say a recorded memoir for a book or family history.

Conclusion – court reporter or legal transcriptionist

Although the work might be similar, transcriptionists and court reporters have different jobs, each with a different benefit for a potential employer.

Legal transcriptionists typically are 25-50% cheaper to hire, have access to security features and cloud hosting, and work with a larger range of specialties. Court reporters are able to produce partial documents as an event happens, so the record is almost ready as soon as an event concludes. Employers should consider these benefits when choosing to hire a legal transcriptionist or a court reporter.

Transcription Outsourcing, LLC is a Denver, Colorado-based legal transcription company that provides fast, accurate and reliable transcription services for law firms, individual attorneys, court systems and legal services companies 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 legal transcription services.