The Latest Trends in Legal Transcription Technology

Legal transcription services are expected to increase in the next decade, resulting in an inevitable expansion of the technologies used to transcribe content more efficiently. 

As more media and forms of communication continue to emerge, so does the content that needs to be transcribed, such as videos, phone calls, surveillance camera footage, interview recordings, etc. While there may have been some initial hesitation, transcription companies are now embracing these new technologies to keep pace with the digital transformation occurring in the market. 

In this article, you’ll learn how:

  • Legal transcription services are becoming more efficient and accurate due to the emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer-aided transcription software, cloud-based transcription services, voice recognition software, speech-to-text software, and encryption and security measures.
  • Lawyers can save time and money by using outsourced legal transcription solutions.
  • Human-powered transcription remains the gold standard for legal transcription services, as humans can decipher accents and dialects and understand the context and nuances of speech.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have transformed how lawyers manage large volumes of data. In the past, they mainly relied on AI document scanning services to transform paper documents into digital format. But even with digitization, lawyers must deal with a never-ending amount of data and use advanced legal research and document review techniques to find what they need. That’s where machine learning comes in. 

Machine learning is a branch of AI based on the concept that systems can learn from data, identify patterns and stories from it, and make decisions with minimal human assistance.

For instance, AI can identify and collect the necessary documents for potential litigation. It can also prioritize the documents it must check through sampling. This capability significantly reduces lawyers’ time on e-discovery and document review.

AI also helps lawyers speed up their due diligence, allowing them to devote time and resources to their core tasks. 

Even a minor error in legal transcripts can have costly and devastating consequences. This highlights the importance of accurate legal transcription services. On that note, one thing to remember is that AI transcription often has significantly lower accuracy rates than human transcription. This is true, especially for content with complex accents, hard-to-decipher dialects, or muddy audio.  

AI cannot capture humor, sarcasm, context, or emotional cues. AI transcription doesn’t have the specialized knowledge or understanding of particular industries or technical terms, which can result in transcription errors. 

Computer-Aided Transcription Software

Court reporters use computer-aided transcription software to transcribe hearings in real-time. The court reporter uses a stenotype machine to capture what is being said in the courtroom, which is then translated by the software into written text. 

A monitor can display the rough draft of the transcripts so all participants can view them. This nifty software also has features like timestamps, audio playback, speed control, and hotkeys. And finally, it can also automatically create an unofficial transcript at the end of the hearing.

Cloud-Based Transcription Services

“In the cloud” has become a common phrase in the last decade. That’s because more data is being converted into digital form, and most software programs used in legal transcription are increasingly web-based. 

The transcription industry has tapped cloud-based technology to produce transcripts more efficiently. Before cloud-based applications, most computer programs required files to be downloaded directly to the computer’s system or hard drive. These files are usually data-heavy and take a long time to download. Sometimes, the file is incompatible with the system or other technology. 

Thankfully, web-based legal transcription applications provide a much more streamlined user experience. With it, a person can download files more quickly. Since they are easier to use, cloud-based programs have also minimized the need for a dedicated IT person or department within companies. 

Another nice thing about cloud-based transcription is that nearly any device can access it. Not being tied down to a desktop computer and having the ability to upload files for transcription from any device significantly improves the turnaround time of transcripts. 

Many cloud-based transcription services also offer collaboration options so that multiple parties involved in a particular case can edit, access, and review transcripts remotely and simultaneously, simplifying the review process and ensuring everyone is on the same page. 

Cloud-based legal transcription also features 24/7 availability. This allows lawyers to submit files for transcription according to their availability, helping them gain control of the workflow. Depending on the project’s complexity, a transcription company often transcribes the files within 24 hours or less. 

Voice Recognition Software

Time is often in short supply for lawyers, so it’s natural they’d rather skip grunt work such as typing or handwriting. Thankfully, speech recognition software has emerged, allowing attorneys to dictate and transcribe speech more efficiently. This tool has greatly helped improve the productivity of law firms and legal departments worldwide. 

Voice recognition software uses “language modeling” and statistical models to recognize speech. In recent years, the technology has improved in terms of performance, ease of use, and detection accuracy. 

Take, for example, Google Cloud’s Speech-to-Text program. This powerful tool can support over 125 languages and variants. The program has a profanity filter that detects inappropriate or unprofessional language in the audio data so it can exclude profane words from the transcript. 

That said, the tool can only go so far. Noisy audio, thick accents, and multiple speakers will degrade its performance.

Regardless, speech recognition software is here and has changed the way legal transcription is done. In the past, law firms depended heavily on secretaries, paralegals, or external transcribers to turn their recordings into text form. But with speech recognition software, a lawyer can dictate or play pre-recorded audio using their chosen device, and the program automatically transcribes the spoken language, with about an 85% accuracy rate at best. A reviewer will then verify the output for accuracy. 

To assess potential litigation outcomes, lawyers must sometimes gather and analyze historical data such as case files, trial audio/videos, or former judicial decisions. AI software can search through large volumes of data faster than humans and provide accurate summaries of lengthy text in seconds. This technology has helped the legal industry incorporate large amounts of information into a compact report. 

Encryption and Security Measures

Many different software and services protect sensitive information and prevent unauthorized access to legal transcripts. The most commonly seen encryption and security measures include secure file transfer services and protocols (e.g., Secure File Transfer Protocol or SFTP), encrypted email services, end-to-end encryption software, encryption software for storage, two-factor authentication measures, Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tools, Virtual Private Networks, and password managers, among many others. 

These advancements have allowed legal professionals worldwide to work smarter, not harder. By relying on machines to complete repetitive tasks on their behalf, lawyers are get more time to focus on critical tasks that can increase their bottom line. 

Technological developments have elevated legal transcription services and allowed workers to shift from manual processes that were once the norm to automated ones. 

Here are the top five benefits of these trends in legal transcription:

Saves time

Legal professionals are constantly looking for ways to increase efficiency in the workplace. With the technologies mentioned above, they have automated most of the tedious tasks involved in legal work. This has resulted in far superior turnaround times compared to when they did everything manually. The faster transcripts are completed, the sooner important documents get to those who need them. 

Reduces transcription costs

Outsourced legal transcription solutions have allowed law firms and other organizations to reduce expenses by removing the need to have an in-house transcription team or paralegals transcribing since using an outsourced team for this task is much cheaper. 

Increases transcription accuracy

Legal documents can make or break a case, so transcripts must be highly accurate. For instance, many speech-to-text programs are about 85% accurate, so you will need to have someone trained in the legal industry to make edits and formatting changes once the speech-to-text program has done its thing.. Experienced human professionals will then review this highly technical output, a two-step process that ensures near-perfect transcript accuracy. 

Flexibility

A technology-based transcription solution offers legal organizations platforms that are usually compatible with various file types. Some programs also feature on-demand templates that allow firms to download completed transcripts in formats that comply with statutory requirements. Also, web-based applications are accessible anytime, so time differences or schedule conflicts will be a non-issue. 

Confidentiality

Sensitive legal information must remain secured and protected at all costs. Many transcription systems today ensure that only those with permissions can access files in the cloud. Advanced AI solutions also use algorithms to monitor activity, further strengthening the privacy and security of legal data. Moreover, hard copies are at higher risk of being tampered with or going missing, which is far less likely to happen with digital files. 

The Takeaway

As the legal transcription industry continuously sheds its dated manual practices and adapts to cutting-edge tools, technology is poised to make a huge impact. 

But as advantageous as technology is, we cannot deny that human expertise remains the best asset of the transcription industry. Although automation can keep costs low and speed things up, human-powered transcription remains the gold standard in the legal setting.

Unlike machines, humans can decipher accents and dialects and understand the context and nuances of speech. If you require the highest level of transcript accuracy, human-powered transcription—which can deliver precise and near-perfect transcripts—might be what you need.

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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