While there’s been a rising demand for audio and video transcription services across all industries, the legal transcription market accounts for nearly 30% of the transcription market as a whole. And demand for legal transcription in the U.S. is expected to account for 90% market share in North America through 2029. These statistics align with my experience – compared to pre-COVID, since 2020, I’ve seen a 60%-70% uptick in audio and video transcription requests.
What’s behind this increased demand? The pandemic was, and is, a definite factor. The abrupt shift from in-person to virtual everything meant people in all professions needed new ways of getting transcriptions made. The rise of Zoom recordings and Zoom transcription services, as well as other video conferencing platforms like Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, also played a role as more professional interactions than ever were recorded as video and audio files.
But when it comes to recordkeeping requirements, in some industries having just an audio recording or video recording is enough. In others, like legal, a hard-copy transcription is required.
As audio and video transcription needs ramp up, legal organizations want to pay careful attention to how and where recordings are transcribed. Let’s take a closer look at some important transcription considerations.
In terms of the type of recording, there is no rule in the legal industry that specifies you must use video recordings over audio recordings or vice versa. Both recording formats can be filed in court. However, you are not permitted to file only an audio and/or video recording—a typed transcript must accompany the filing. Whether a recording of a wiretap, a 911 call, a police interview, a deposition, or a Senate hearing, any digital file must include a written transcript.
When it comes to audio or video transcription, artificial intelligence (AI) and speech-to-text tools are a great option for in-house use in instances where 100% accuracy is not required. For example, if a legal firm is transcribing audio recordings of interviews that don’t need to be filed with the court. Automatic transcription also works well for stock calls, or really any recordings that are considered work product, because there are not format or accuracy requirements associated with these documents. AI is fast, and typically less expensive, though it tends to have more instances of misheard, incorrect, or indecipherable words.
On the other hand, any transcript from an audio or video recording that is to be used in litigation and filed within the court must be done in a court reporter format. Transcripts must have a certain number of lines—either 25 lines or 28 lines depending on which court is receiving them—and in certain states must be verbatim and done by an actual court reporter. For this reason, courts will not accept AI transcripts. Only those done by manual transcription.
As a transcription services provider, U.S. Legal Support meets both HIPAA and HITECH compliance requirements and
As a transcription services provider, we must meet both HIPAA and HITECH compliance requirements, and take privacy and confidentiality extremely seriously. That means we never sell any copies of transcripts, nor share transcripts with any party other than the original submitter—all transcripts are sent via a secure, non-shareable link that expires after a specific window of time.
That also means all our transcribers are required to sign business agreements, including non-disclosure agreements. In addition, all transcripts are kept in a secure database. We’re required to house transcripts related to criminal filings for more than ten years. For civil filings, that requirement is shorter.
There are so many ways to create recordings these days, but when it comes to files needed for audio and video transcription, some formats are definitively better than others. If you’re planning to have something transcribed for a legal or court proceeding, it is important to think through the following.
In terms of virtual meeting platforms, I’ve found that Zoom is one of the better ones for translating an audio or video recording into a transcript. It provides you with speaker identification and displays who is speaking at a specific time within the recording.
Other platforms, like Google Meet, won’t tell you who is speaking. Unless it was captured on video and you are supplied with a name and what the speaker was wearing, you can have a hard time identifying speakers.
The quality of a recording really comes down to the audio and where the mic is placed. If the person talking is across the room and not close to the mic, like on a speaker phone, it’s much harder to pick up his or her voice and there’s a better chance of misheard or dropped words.
The quality of the connection itself also plays a big role. This can come into play with wire taps or cell phone recordings of interviews, or if the person recording a conversation has a poor Wi-Fi connection.
Accents and dialects can also impact transcription accuracy. For this reason, when dealing with recordings where international speakers are involved, it’s vital to use a real person to create the transcript—and if it’s someone who is intimately familiar with the language and dialect, and can transcribe it with great accuracy, all the better.
At U.S. Legal Support, our team has translators who are fluent in multiple languages and dialects. When we work with a legal entity on transcribing an audio or video recording where dialects or accents are a factor, we’re able to assign that recording to someone who understands both the phrases and words commonly used in that dialect, as well as different legal jargon that might be used within the speaker’s court system.
Using a litigation support resource who understands the area of expertise covered by the recording also helps in the process of cleaning up the audio prior to transcription. If it’s a recording of a financial board meeting, for example, we assign someone who understands the financial industry and its terminology. This ensures a more customized, accurate experience and transcript.
Given the nuances in transcript requirements, here are considerations for legal professionals when looking to invest in audio or video transcription services.
I believe audio and video transcription holds big promise for the legal industry in the coming years. I also believe the further development and refinement of additional technologies is going to greatly enhance the transcription world, too.
Sure, some verbatim format will always be required, and a human touch will always be needed, but AI looks to grow even more. In the last decade alone, I feel we’ve gone from probably 50% capture up to 80% or 90% capture using AI. I’m excited to see what the future holds.
Content published on the U.S. Legal Support blog is reviewed by professionals in the legal and litigation support services field to help ensure accurate information.