Legal Transcription from home involves good typing skills and a keen eye for detail. As the court system continues to slow down due to increasing caseloads, law firms need the services of legal transcriptionists more and more. The growth outlook in this field is especially good for the next few years, and that means the fees that transcriptionists charge will likely be going up as well. Here's what you need to know about being a legal transcriptionist.
What a Legal Transcriptionist Does
A legal transcriptionist listens to different types of court proceedings and types a transcript of them. These can include depositions, legal memos, correspondence and other things that happen around a court case. The type of shorthand that court reporters use is unnecessary; a transcriptionist types up the documents using a regular computer keyboard. It also entails proofreading the work for accuracy.
Additional duties that some transcriptionists provide include:
- Tracking the dates of court hearings
- Organizing documents
- Managing a filing system for a law firm
Fast Writing Skills Necessary
A transcriptionist needs to be a fast and accurate typist. The task will entail the use of transcribing software; this often includes a foot pedal that's used in conjunction with the audio recordings. The pedal can stop and start the audio as you're typing. A clear understanding of the English language is needed, and knowledge of common legal terminology is a plus.
Programs to Learn the Transcribing "Know How"
You won't find a specific degree program for legal transcriptionists. There are, however, programs available at many community colleges and vocational/technical schools that you can take. These will teach you how to use the software and other skills that are necessary for working as a transcriptionist.
Marketing Your Services
The best way to drum up business for yourself as a transcriptionist is to open your local Yellow Pages to the legal section. You can pitch yourself to local law firms over the phone or through email. Let them know your rates and the volume of work that you can handle. Don't be discouraged if the first few calls don't produce results. Law firms are overworked, and you'll eventually find someone who needs a legal transcription service to help with their case volume.
There's no salary information available for legal transcriptionists. It's a field that the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't track. Most transcriptionists report making between $20,000 and $60,000, but these are salaries for individuals who work at law firms. Your income potential could be higher or lower based on your skills and reputation, and the rates you charge. Many legal firms are willing to set up an online payment system for invoicing, or you can go the traditional route and bill them on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for a paper check.
Know What You're Getting Into
While performing transcribing jobs for criminal cases might sound glamorous, there are a few things that you should know. The real details of many violent crimes are often too gruesome to make it on the nightly news. If you choose to work with criminal lawyers, you could be listening to audio recordings that describe rapes, crimes against children and murders. If you're squeamish about these things, you might want to stay away from this particular field of law.