Global Lingo Blog

The exact art of Legal Transcription

Legal transcription is a high-pressure job. The deadlines are often short and the volume significant; and above all, there is no room for error. Of course, our team of professional transcribers demand the highest standards of themselves and of each other no matter what the job.

However, not all jobs are a matter of life or death. A typo in the summary of a conference might cause the executive reading it some frustration; a typo in a legal transcript, on the other hand, might be the difference between jail and freedom.

Over the years, we have produced transcriptions for some of the most controversial and high-profile trials, including those concerning Baha Mousa and Jean Charles de Menezes. There have been several notable problems.

  • First, the transcribers often have only limited information. Some names are concealed, some place names omitted and some context not provided by the client. This is a necessary precaution where, for instance, the armed services are involved.
  • Second, audio can occasionally be of a poor quality, with heavily-accented speakers. This is not always the case; but legal audio can be, for instance, the recording of a phone call, or a recording from the only place where two people could safely meet and talk (on a train, say).

Professional legal transcribers become accustomed to dealing with such difficulties. We have also provided transcripts for investigations involving children, and for investigations where interpreting is being used.

Such experience is very useful, for the writers become accustomed to diverse manners of speech; this allows them to anticipate what might be said and how it should be written. Working consistently in the legal sector also allows transcribers to learn obscure terminology and to recognise it when it reappears.

Professional Legal Transcribers

Professional transcribers can produce exactly the document that you require. Some of our clients have asked us for every sound – after all, is, ‘I don’t think so’ the same answer as, ‘Umm….I don’t think so’? If documents are to be used in court, this is the standard format and is known as legal verbatim – crying, shouting, coughing and even some background noises are noted.

Other clients have asked for an edited verbatim transcript, as the transcript would not be used for evidence but rather for internal use, to decide, for example, whether a case should be pursued.

Legal transcription from audio

Not all legal audio is of a clandestine, cloak-and-dagger, life-or-death nature. There are many recordings that are relatively banal – interviews at police stations or with solicitors, for instance. Here the focus is on precise, verbatim transcript.

Writers focus first and foremost on making sure that absolutely nothing is omitted or distorted; clients have to be certain that they can trust the document that they will receive. Beyond this, though, the writers are capable of removing all noises or false starts that add nothing to the transcript. Such a service is extremely valuable for hard-working lawyers who need a document that reads fluently.

Still others – large law firms – have asked for a more concise summary of a meeting between partners or an informal discussion with a client. It all depends on what you require. We will meet your needs within your timeframe, bringing our experience, our expertise and our impeccable organisation to the task.

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