A legal transcriptionist works on a per-job basis as an independent contractor who creates official transcripts from court audio recordings. He or she transcribes the proceedings using a computer-aided transcription software (CAT) along with an audio recording to ensure the court transcript is as accurate and error-free as possible. Here are a few qualities necessary to be a professional legal transcriptionist:
Because legal transcriptionist is a work-from-home-career, it requires a lot of self-discipline to stay productive and focused through long solitary hours in a quiet atmosphere. On some days, everything in the world can be more interesting than work, but legal transcriptionist is deadline-driven, so to be successful it’s critical to organize space for concentration, and stick to a routine.
ENJOYS WORKING ALONE
Good legal transcriptionist like to work alone, and can balance solitary time with social time to avoid mental burnout. They keep their social calendars upbeat in off-hours to be at their best during their solitary workdays. Because they set their own schedules, they can take lunchtime to run errands and get out and about, or make calls to briefly to break up the pace, so they come back to work feeling rested and recharged.
HAS IMPECCABLE GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION
A strong command of the English language and its punctuation is an absolute must for good legal transcriptionists. If you love working with the English language, new vocabulary, the finer points of grammar, and all things legalese, a career in legal transcription is worth examining.
INVESTS IN PROFESSIONAL TOOLS
Equipment and Software
The legal transcriptionists in my firm use computer-aided transcription (or CAT) software to complete their projects. Many software options exist, such as DigitalCAT, StenoCAT, and ProCAT, but the two most popular are CaseCATalyst and Eclipse. The initial investment for software runs around $5000 for each of the two more popular programs, and is downloadable directly to your computer.
Because legal transcriptionists sit for long hours at a time, the right office equipment is key. If you want longevity in this career, you need to take care of yourself from the start. Legal transcriptionists need a reliable laptop or desktop computer, a good internet connection, high-quality transcription headphones, and a desk, chair and keyboard that ergonomically fit you well.
Many influencing factors affect income. Take them into consideration when deciding if legal transcription is the right fit.
- Level of expertise – great legal transcriptionists can make great pay!
- Years’ experience – newbies, as in many career paths, without credentials, referrals or testimonials should expect to earn a little less while paying their dues, but experienced full-time legal transcriptionists who focus on networking and the higher paying work can make several thousand dollars monthly.
- Number of work hours – More hours at work means more jobs.
- Speed and accuracy – Slower typing speed and number of errors will affect how quickly you work, and ultimately how many jobs you can take. Training programs suggest entering the field with high accuracy and a 60 wpm typing speed as a good start. At our firm, we require 85 wpm minimum.
- Depth of work – Work can vary from short depositions to grand jury trials. Higher rates result from more in-depth work.
- Project turnaround – Legal transcriptionists earn more for rush documents.
Legal transcriptionists work long solitary hours, with high levels of concentration to meet strict deadlines, and in return, they enjoy schedule and income flexibility. If you love to work from home, love to proofread or correct grammar, have tenacious attention to detail, and stick fiercely to deadlines, you already have many of the attributes that makes a good legal transcriptionist. Many factors work into what makes a good legal transcriptionist but the most critical is the ability to show your clients how you offer reliability and value over your competition. You need to make your clients’ jobs easier. This is a big determining factor when companies are looking for their next hire. And if you do this, your reward will be a lucrative career that offers a wealth of work for years to come. If you are an experienced, credentialed professional transcriptionist, please get in touch for contracting opportunities with Accuscribers, Inc.