What are the differences between legal transcription and dictation?

What are the differences between legal transcription and dictation?

A legal transcriptionist is not just someone that offers dictation. You may have heard both terms, dictation and transcription thrown around in the same sentences and phrases, and it is understandable that if you don’t have any knowledge in this area you might consider that they are just two different ways of saying the same thing. However, there are key differences between legal transcription and dictation. This article with be a helpful resource for legal professionals if they are looking for professional assistance from a legal transcription company to help with case files, interviews, and a whole host of other recordings that need to be transcribed. We’ll take a look at each a little deeper, to find out the difference between the two and how they help within the legal world.

The stress of the legal profession

Most legal professionals live a stressful work life, in all areas of law. Information is created, shared, and collated, at all times, in a speedy manner. In order to build cases, conduct accurate research and analysis, and be meticulous with everything that you do, you rely on the accuracy of your notes and the information gleaned from various sources. This is where a legal transcription service can help immeasurably. Before we dig deeper into this, let’s look at the key differences between dictation and legal transcription.

What is dictation? – This is the process where a person writes down everything that they hear either from another person speaking to them in person or via a recording device. For dictation, you can either read from the notes that have been written or listen back to the recording.


What is transcription? – This is where recorded speech is typed up to clearly show what has been said, 100% verbatim. Companies can now choose to use a person to transcribe a recording or utilise voice-recognition software.

As you can see, there are similarities between the two, especially if you are considering using them for legal services. Both can be kept as notes to be re-read at a later date, making them great assets for legal professionals.

What are the differences between the two?

If you are considering what to choose, below are some key differences to help you stay informed.

The time it takes This is a big difference, as dictation is faster due to the fact it is simply a recording of whatever is said to an individual or a device. The playback is available right away. Transcription takes longer than this, but with that it allows you to offer up shorthand notes or long recordings that can be transformed into something that is easy to understand at a later date (and by a later date this could be the next day or within a few days).


Sharing end result The evolution of technology has made it much easier to share files instantly, which means that for both dictation and legal transcription there is ease of use for legal professionals. Dictation might remain clunky due to the fact you may need to search through to find specific points you are looking for, which is easier to do with a transcription of a recording, where you can search for a specific keyword for instant access.


Clarity Transcriptions have that human element that is still hard to replicate for some software. Dictated audio files may still lack quality and clarity, whereas a human legal transcriptionist has had the time to go back into a file to ensure that they are writing down with full accuracy what has been said. This can make such a big difference, especially when you are discussing delicate legal files and proceedings where accuracy is everything.


Ease of use A legal transcription service provides you with a text-based transcription of everything you have sent over in audio or visual form. This makes them really easy to use when compared directly with dictation, which can often be clunky to navigate and manage. Written transcriptions are also handy to have on file in case you need to look back at old files in the future.

legal firm transcription

As you can see, there is a difference between legal transcription and dictation, though they are similar processes and there are elements of dictation within the role that a legal transcriptionist takes up. Choosing a legal transcription company to assist your law firm is an important decision, as it can make all the difference to maximising the potential and key competencies of your existing staff, freeing up their time to concentrate on the things that matter the most. Legal transcription offers support to their workload, providing clear and key audio and visual recordings in 100% accurate written form. This makes such a big difference when a legal professional is working on putting a case together and has a stack of evidence, interviews, notes, and other supplementary information and data that needs to be collated.

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