[author: Sandra Redavid]
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 industries needed new ways of getting transcriptions made. The rise of digital platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet also played a role, as more professional interactions than ever were recorded as video and audio files. Transcripts can help for meetings where you just want the notes recorded or want to remember something important that wasn’t written down.
When it comes to record keeping requirements, in some industries, having just an audio recording or video recording is enough. In others, like the legal industry, a hard-copy transcript is required because an accurate record of a legal proceeding is always necessary. No matter the reason, as audio and video transcription demands ramp up, legal organizations want to pay careful attention to how and where recordings are transcribed, as this could drastically impact legal outcomes.
Video recording v. audio recording
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.
Privacy and security requirements
As a transcription services provider, U.S. Legal Support meets both HIPAA and HITECH compliance requirements and takes privacy and confidentiality extremely seriously. This means we never sell any copies of transcripts, nor share transcripts with any party other than the original submitted. We also take extra care that our transcripts are sent via a secure, non-shareable link within our SOC 2 Type 2 and HIPAA compliant client portal. In addition, all transcripts are kept in a secure database that follows our SOC 2 Type 2 compliant protocols as well.
We take security another step further by ensuring our “people” are secure as well. Transcribers are required to sign business agreements, including non-disclosure agreements. You can learn more about how U.S. Legal Support wraps all of our services in industry-leading cybersecurity efforts here.
How recording quality impacts the final transcript: four important considerations
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.
#1: The platform
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.
#2: The mic
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.
#3: The speakers
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.
#4: The terminology
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.
Best practices for selecting an audio and video transcription services provider
Given the nuances in transcript requirements, here are considerations for legal professionals when looking to invest in audio or video transcription services.
- Ask: will you be filing the material in court?
- Ask: If you are using the transcript for litigation, what are the stipulations of the state in which you’re filing (what format, must it be verbatim, etc.)?
- Double check: If a transcription is required for a legal filing, choose a service provider that specializes in legal transcription and offers physical transcription by a transcriptionist or court reporter.
- Double check: Make sure the provider adheres to HIPAA and HITECH requirements.
What to avoid:
- Providers who say they can have a low-cost transcript done in 24 hours that can be legally filed—this could be a red flag that the transcript may not be verbatim.
- Providers who are not transparent about their privacy and security practices.
- Providers who cannot supply transcripts in multiple content types (Word docs, PDFs, etc.).
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.