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How Do I Choose the Best Legal Transcription Service?

C. Mitchell
C. Mitchell

Choosing the best legal transcription service usually is a matter of understanding your need for transcription, evaluating the options available and doing a bit of research into any companies or individuals you are considering. Legal transcription services range from independent contractors working from home to multinational outsourcing firms that will supply teams of workers to fit your specific needs. Different services are better suited to certain situations. Making the best choice usually is no more difficult than determining exactly what you want, then finding the group that can provide that to you with the best combination of experience and cost.

Beginning your search for a legal transcription service is often the most difficult part. The process usually starts with a comprehensive look at your corporate structure, especially concerning resource management and division of labor. Before you start contacting legal transcription service providers, you will need a sense of the kind of workload you are looking to reallocate.

A legal transcriptionist is responsible for accurately documenting testimony at court proceedings.
A legal transcriptionist is responsible for accurately documenting testimony at court proceedings.

Some law firms spend significant time and resources compiling basic documents and transcribing attorney notes. These tasks often fall to paralegals, though this is not always the best use of resources. Most paralegals are trained in a range of skills beyond the purely administrative, and they often command high salaries because of it. Evaluate how many hours your paralegals spend doing rote transcription services to get a basic sense of the money you are already spending in this area. This will give you a sense not only of how much work there is, but also how much you stand to shave off your bottom line by outsourcing transcription-related services to non-salaried independent contractors.

Law firms that have complex transcription requests often seek out professional staffing companies for legal transcription service. Many of these companies work like temp agencies, in the sense that they work with teams of qualified transcriptionists and are able to match professionals to specific opportunities. These kinds of companies are essentially “one-stop shops” for law firms, and they provide streamlined billing and project management.

The advantages associated with hiring a legal transcription business are many, but there are some downsides, too. Contracting with a service is often more expensive than simply hiring independent transcriptionists directly, for instance. Placement fees and other administrative costs are often added to the worker's base pay. Companies might not always be transparent about where their employees are located, either.

It is not uncommon for major outsourcing corporations to retain the services of legal transcriptionists located in other countries, where labor might be less expensive. These cost savings can be passed on to your company, but this is not always the case. Outsourced professional legal transcription is sometimes controversial, particularly among the most elite law firms. If you are concerned about the location of your affiliated staff, be sure to ask about hiring sources before retaining a certain service.

Hiring an individual to perform legal transcription service for your company can be a good option as well, particularly for smaller companies or for projects that are limited in time and scope. Many former paralegals and legal administrative staff members work doing legal transcription at home, often marketing themselves as freelance experts. These professionals tend to offer the lowest prices, but they can be less dependable. It is important to check any independent transcriptionist’s credentials before retaining his or her services.

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    • A legal transcriptionist is responsible for accurately documenting testimony at court proceedings.
      By: Lisa F. Young
      A legal transcriptionist is responsible for accurately documenting testimony at court proceedings.