While not a career you hear about on TV Shows or in movies, a legal transcriptionist’s job is no less exciting or important to the court system and its effectiveness. We get a lot of emails from potential transcriptionists, so we thought we’d do a brief post about what it takes to get started in this rewarding career.
Accuracy and Timeliness are Key
With the nature of the court system’s complexity, both accuracy and timeliness are critical when it comes to the production of court transcripts. These transcripts are the official record of what was said, verbatim, in courtroom proceedings. Errors in these transcripts can create costly trial delays, misinformed decisions and a negative impact on outcomes.
To ensure high accuracy in documents, the preparation of courtroom transcripts is a multi-step process. What was said in a courtroom is first taken down, carefully edited, and then proofread to perfection – or as near to it as possible. A legal transcriptionist must be committed to producing transcripts on time and accurately.
What it Takes
Legal transcriptionists work requires a high level of concentration, attention to detail, and an almost obsession with getting it right. It takes a certain personality type to handle the rigorous nature of this highly detailed and meticulous work.
Self-Discipline – This is a work-from-home job, and, because of that, it requires a great deal of self-starting skills to be successful. If you’re looking for part-time or full-time work that you can do from home, this is a great job if you can organize and structure your workday and can stay on task for long stretches of time.
Strong Command of and Interest in the English Language – A legal transcriptionist needs to have impeccable grammar and a love for language to have a thriving career. Anything less than a passion for the English language will mean long, difficult hours that only end in mediocre production and lots of distraction.
Interest in the Legal System – Successful transcriptionists take great interest in the legal process. If you enjoy legal, criminal or courtroom TV shows, the subject matter that relates to a transcriptionist’s job may be of great interest to you.
Legal Transcriptionist Training and Equipment
Every transcriptionist needs to have the right equipment, training, and typing skills. Many online programs offer great training for legal transcription. With high-quality computer-aided software like Case CATalyst or Eclipse, noise-canceling transcription headphones, a reliable internet connection, and a dependable desktop or laptop computer, a transcriptionist has key tools needed to provide professional, high-quality work.
Some of the best legal transcriptionists are former reporting students with above-average language skills, medical knowledge, and specialized software expertise.
In general, legal transcriptionists who have the right equipment and training can make between $1000-$3000 per month, depending on the type of project, number of hours, experience, and client base. This is a very rough estimate; every situation is different. A new transcriptionist should plan to make less to start, of course. After gaining experience in the field, pay can be expected to increase on par with the quality of work and production level achieved.
Legal transcription is an excellent career that can offer great income, steady influx of work, and schedule flexibility, with minimal initial investment compared to many other work-from-home, self-employment opportunities. If you have self-discipline, the willingness to go the extra mile to produce near-perfect transcripts, and timeliness to meet strict work deadlines, a career path as a legal transcription may be the perfect fit.