For those who have a talent for typing, a keen eye for detail, and are hardworking, a career in legal transcription could be a fun and fulfilling one. It is a viable legal career path, with good rates of pay, whether directly employed by a legal firm, or by a legal transcription company.
What is the role of a legal transcriptionist?
A legal transcriptionist is a person responsible for writing up notes from recordings of meetings, and other audio recordings, in a clear and accurate fashion. They need great levels of listening and typing skills and are determined and fast at what they do.
A person in this role is responsible for all typed versions of recorded materials. In the legal sector, this is an important responsibility, as clarity and accuracy are a necessity. Some of the tasks that a legal transcriptionist would be expected to complete include:
- Create notes from dictated recordings that have been produced by paralegals, solicitors, or lawyers.
- Transcribe recordings into the correct documentation form, such as motions, time entries, legal memorandums, interrogations, agreements, discovery documents, pleadings, and all other legal correspondence.
- Expectation to speak with legal professionals to receive dictation that is required for presentation in a court setting.
- Create error-free documentation for legal professionals to reference at a later date.
What are the key skills required to become a legal transcriptionist?
There are a few key skills that are a must for any person looking to become a legal transcriptionist. They include:
- Attention to detail – the role is important to the legal sector, where there is a real need for clarity and accuracy. A document that has been transcribed with accuracy can be referred to without any worry by a legal professional at a later date.
- Good typing skills – most legal transcriptionists aim to have a typing speed of at least 85 words per minute without any errors present. A fast and efficient typist is important to this role where most documents are time sensitive and require accuracy.
- Basic knowledge of legal terminology – the role involves listening to a lot of audio recordings where legal terminology is used frequently by lawyers and legal assistants. Having a basic knowledge of these words and terms helps to create accurate documents using the correct words and formatting for clarity.
- Good knowledge of English – you must have a clear grasp of the English language, spelling, grammar and syntax to perform to an acceptable level in a transcription role. This is especially the case in such a detail-driven industry such as the legal sector.
- Listening skills – as you will be listening to audio recordings that you are to accurately transcribe into written documents, it is vital that you have a good ear and are capable of listening with intent to not miss a single word in any recording you transcribe.
- Time management skills – transcription services for the legal sector are often under strict deadlines, so you must have the ability to manage your time effectively, to learn how to prioritise certain tasks and provide access to documents within the timeframe the legal professionals require them.
What equipment is needed?
Working as a legal transcriptionist, you’ll require a reliable computer and a robust internet connection. Alongside this, you’ll do well with a comfortable chair, a solid desk to work from, the best headphones you can find, and the best software. You might begin with Microsoft Word but could move onto transcription-specific software.
How to become a legal transcriptionist
Although you don’t need a law degree to be involved in this legal career, as with any career choice it pays off to study and get your specific qualifications in order. There are a few steps you should take to become a legal transcriptionist.
- Study – there are transcription-specific courses that you can take to gain a qualification in transcription. This includes legal-specific transcription where you learn about court transcription and other legal documentation.
- Learn on the job – there is no substitute for experience, so look for internships, smaller roles, and learn transcription on the job. Taking up work from a legal transcription company can help here, to ease you into the role.
What is the average salary for a legal transcriptionist?
If you are interested in a career within the legal sector but not necessarily as a solicitor or legal professional in that sense, a career as a legal transcriptionist does offer an interesting path to take. The national average salary for a legal transcriptionist in the United Kingdom is £21,000 per year. For many legal transcription services, they will pay by audio minute or by your set hourly rate as you gain more experience. This can change from person to person and from company to company.
There is a good career path open for those interested in transcription services, especially for a UK-based transcription company that serves legal companies and organisations, alongside myriad other sectors where there is a need for speedy and accurate transcription services.