What Is Legal Transcription?


What is legal transcription

Legal transcription is transcription of legal content or other content needed for legal reasons. The finished transcript becomes part of the legal record.

Transcribing is listening to a recording and typing what is said on a recording. A transcript turns the spoken words from recordings into a typed document. The recordings range from audio tapes to digital recordings to video.  The transcript is typically delivered in digital format and can be printed.

Types of legal transcription work

The wide variety of legal transcription work includes corporate law, family law, real estate, collections and foreclosures, personal injury, insurance defense, Workers’ Comp claims and defense, medical malpractice and criminal law.

Legal transcriptionists transcribe court proceedings, court hearings, trial recordings, recorded depositions, testimonies, pleadings, interviews, interrogations, statements and confessions, phone calls, dictated notes, legal correspondence, police interviews and more.

Who needs legal transcription?

Legal transcription is used by a variety of legal professionals, law firms, private practice attorneys, court administrators, criminal justice agencies, and law enforcement.

In addition to legal industries, legal transcriptionists work with a variety of businesses and corporations, insurance companies, real estate, financial institutions, schools, universities, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, a variety of other sectors and private individuals.

Why legal transcription is needed:

Legal transcription in high demand. Here are just some of the reasons why legal transcription is needed:

  • Legal professionals need good record keeping.
  • Businesses, organizations, government agencies, and private and public sectors need to maintain legal documents.
  • Transcription is an effective way to generate legal records.
  • Transcripts provide a permanent written record of proceedings.
  • Legal professionals use a high volume of recordings. Audio and video help document cases and the transcribed text becomes part of the evidence.
  • Legal transcriptionists help legal professionals and the legal system to function more smoothly and efficiently.
  • Legal transcripts help document, organize and access legal information.
  • A transcript makes it easier and faster to search for information, key terms and names rather than playing back recordings.

Why the need for transcriptionists has increased and keeps growing:

  • Increasing lawsuits and caseloads has increased the need for transcription.
  • The need to maintain legal records has increased for businesses, organizations, government and private and public sectors.

Why is legal transcription outsourced?

Outsourcing legal transcription has many benefits vs doing the work in-house:

  • Faster turnaround: Professional transcriptionists can transcribe faster than in-house employees who are not experienced in transcription. Also, work can be outsourced to several transcriptionists.
  • Outsourcing transcription saves legal professionals a lot of time that they can use to focus on more important tasks.
  • Experienced transcriptionists provide more accurate transcripts.
  • Reduced overhead: Outsourcing is less expensive than recruiting in-house staff.

Not sure if legal transcription is right for you?

Find out what’s involved in becoming a legal transcriptionist and how you can get started. Get answers to frequently asked questions. Subscribe to this my mini-course.


Read about the skills required to become a legal transcriptionist.

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Reference materials such as a law dictionary and style manual are essential when transcribing legal documents.  Below are popular reference guides for legal transcriptionists and paralegals.

Search Legal Terms and Definitions.  This free online law dictionary is a great resource to check legal terms.

Legal Terminology (6th Edition) by Gordon Brown is the most popular legal terminology book.

Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Pocket Edition. Pocket Edition is the top-selling paperback law dictionary. With more than 19,000 definitions from the industry-standard Black s Law Dictionary 10th, it is an essential reference tool for legal terms in a compact format. The terms that matter most, with clear and concise definitions, are included, from the legal dictionary that judges and lawyers cite more than any other. Law students, journalists, lawyers, and anyone interested in knowing the precise meaning of legal terms find this a must-have.

Barron’s Law Dictionary (Barron’s Law Dictionary (Quality). Updated to reflect recent modifications in federal and state law, this book is a quick-reference source for lawyers, law students, legal professionals, and interested laypersons. The author defines more than 5,000 legal terms, using nontechnical language that remains legally accurate. Terms are documented with citations and apply to civil procedure, commercial and contract law, constitutional law, criminal law, property law, and torts.

A Form and Style Manual for Paralegals is a classic reference book written by an experienced teacher and practitioner for paralegals at all levels of experience. It’s a must for legal transcriptionists and a great resource for people wanting to become a legal transcriptionist.


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