There are similarities between the role of a legal transcriber and a court reporter. Both are roles that are required to create transcriptions of both legal and court proceedings, and each must capture words verbatim, with a very high level of accuracy required. The main difference between the two roles is the setting in which they perform them. Here, we will take a look at a few of the key differences between the two.
Understanding how to choose between legal transcription and a court reporter
There are clear times when a court reporter is required instead of a legal transcriptionist. The court reporter is present in a courtroom setting or other legal environment, with a stenographer writing in shorthand, everything that is spoken in real time. A court reporter is a legal requirement for official records of court deliberations, including closed-door legal hearings. If a judge is present, then a court reporter is a requirement.
There may be instances where audio or video recordings are taken and these are required to be written up into legal documents later on, rather than left in the raw format. This is where a legal transcription service is required.
What does a legal transcriptionist help with?
Utilising a great legal transcriptionist can help a lot. Once audio and video files are sent over, they listen to the recordings and transcribe them verbatim, writing down the exact words that are spoken. There is a wide range of tools and technology that is used by transcriptionists to ensure that the finalised legal written document is as accurate as possible. It’s important that your transcription is formatted for the correct legal setting and provides the information and data that a legal professional requires access to at a moments notice.
Examples of audio and video files that require legal transcription include; arbitration proceedings, 999 calls, jury instructions, court proceedings, depositions, judgments, legal pleadings, briefs, conferences, telephone conversations, meetings, memorandums, and many more settings.
Legal transcription includes all background noise and non-verbal communication, including gasps and fillers such as ‘um’ and ‘ah’. Grammatical corrections and other corrections are required for tasks such as correspondence and legal documents such as contracts and legal agreements. No qualifications are required to become a legal transcriptionist although experience within a legal setting is advantageous due to the need to write sometimes complex legal terminology and to understand the correct context.
What does a court reporter do?
A court reporter works in the courtroom and are sometimes referred to as a stenographer. This is due to the machine they use to write shorthand what is being said at that exact time. They must complete a course and qualification to be allowed into the profession, and provide stellar support for courtrooms, judges, lawyers, and government agencies.
The big difference alongside legal transcription is that a court reporter is writing down exactly what is said, live, as it happens in front of them. Verbatim court transcriptions can be performed using conventional machines or by using the latest recording technology and equipment. Digital court reporters take notes during the proceedings and create records with keywords and identification of speakers.
Everything that is written down by a court reporter must be accurate, including all words spoken in court or at a deposition. This immediate, real-time transcription is for use by judges, lawyers, and individuals present in the court of legal environment who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The workplace of a legal transcriptionist and court reporter
This is probably the biggest difference between the two roles, the setting in which the work is carried out. Court reporters are mostly set to work in the courtroom, and sometimes in other legal settings. They use a stenograph machine that allows them to write in shorthand everything that is said in their surroundings. This is then later transcribed into a fully written document based on the shorthand document and is the court transcription.
A legal transcriptionist works in an informal setting, and generally away from the legal environment. There is a wide range of audio and video recordings that might be sent to a legal transcription service to transform into accurate, written text that creates a legal document that can be referred to at a later date by legal professionals.
Qualifications for a court reporter vs legal transcriptionist
A court reporter is required to pass approved educational courses and competency tests, whilst continuing education throughout their careers. A legal transcriber on the other hand does not require any qualifications. That being said, it is always a desired attribute, as well as experience in a legal setting in order to understand the sometimes complex legal terminology.
Legal transcription has the advantage that there is no time pressure to transcribe immediately, as there is with a court reporter who is writing as the words are spoken in a live setting. For a transcription service, there is the ability and time to pause and rewind as often as is required to ensure the final document is accurate and to the highest of standards.