Brittany was working in a factory all day and longing to find a way to find work from home so she wouldn’t have to spend time away from her baby son. She first discovered transcription through companies online, and later went on to specialize as a legal transcriptionist which gave her the skills and credibility to land clients on her own.
We love this in-depth interview with Brittany because she shares detailed insight and encouragement other aspiring transcriptionists, from how to ensure your client roster stays full, to how to determine if legal transcription is the right path for you to pursue.
If you’re curious about how to find legal transcription jobs from home, read on!
Hi Brittany! Tell us a bit about yourself – How did you get started working from home?
I’m 28 years old, married, with a three-year-old son and two older daughters. It all started when my son was born. I was working in a factory sewing pillows and was super depressed. I hated being away from my son all day. So my hunt for working at home started.
I’ve tried two different businesses before getting to transcription. One was a call service where we had to cold call people, which is terrible for introverts. The other was a handmade items business.
One day I ran into “make $25/hr typing at home” jobs, and I decided to give it a shot. I’ve loved it ever since.
What made you decide to take the online course, Legal Transcription: Theory & Practice?
I had been transcribing for over a year in both legal and general transcription, but I wanted to gain my own clients instead of through a company. Don’t get me wrong, working with the companies has been great, but it’s time I started my own.
So I found the course and thought that the certification would help me look legit and less scammy to potential lawyers and courts. Plus, I didn’t know everything working in legal. I mean, who can know it all? There are tons of different formats, but it gets easier.
How does your business fit in with your schedule? Does it allow flexibility?
It’s the best! There’s no way I could go to all of our doctor appointments working a regular job. I’d get fired in the first week for sure. So working at home has made it possible to contribute to the household income and my responsibilities as a parent. I can work when I want, where I want, and how long I want as long as the jobs are submitted by the deadlines.
What is your favorite aspect of legal transcription?
I love listening to the cases and the evidence to make my own determination of whether the defendant is guilty in a criminal case. I feel important when typing anything legal because I know it needs to be the best possible transcript.
If it’s not accurate, I could be the cause of someone going to jail or getting off the hook when they don’t deserve it. Not to mention the cases can be extremely interesting to listen to.
What about your least favorite thing about it?
The only thing I don’t like sometimes is the type of cases that sometimes cross me such as sex abuse or anything like that. It’s challenging to listen to, but I always tell myself that I’m helping that victim put their predator away.
Other than that, I’d have to say sitting all day. I plan to invest in a stand/sit desk so I can stand or sit whenever I want.
What skills or characteristics make for a great legal transcriptionist?
There are tons of skills someone needs to have. This is a short list off the top of my head that are must-haves:
- Organization. If you have several jobs and different deadlines, you need to have a schedule or at least have the dates written down. I keep a calendar and write a schedule with times in it to help me stay on track.
- Listening. You have to be able to hear what the people are saying. If you cannot hear good, this job is not for you. An accurate transcript is the most important aside from deadlines. You can also invest in a good pair of headphones. For example, I have a pair of Bose QC 25 and they are amazing.
- Typing skills. I would suggest being able to type at least 70 words per minute. I started out at 50, but I hadn’t typed in a long time. I’ve now built my speed up to 90 words per minute.
- Research skills. You must be able to do extensive research to find names and places of people for verification of spelling.
- Communication. Whether you’re working with a personal client or a company, there always needs to be communication. Don’t leave your client hanging if you have an emergency. This won’t go over well with them.
- Able to handle criticism. I say this because if you’re working with a company, you could accidentally make a mistake or forget to do something and they hammer you for it. We’re humans. We’re going to make mistakes and forget things. The company may say it needs to be perfect, but there’s no such thing.
- Punctual and reliable. Your assignments must be turned in on time, always. Sometimes you will have an emergency, and that’s okay. But tell your client as far ahead of time as possible. Otherwise, you’ll be considered unreliable and you may lose them, then you’re out of work.
- Dependable. The better your work is, the more you will get because you’ll be considered reliable, and they can trust you. This goes for company or personal clients.
- Working in legal, you can’t have a whole bunch of emotions with the cases. Yes, they can be difficult to listen to, but you can’t pick and choose what you want to do. You just have to tell yourself you’re helping that person. If it bothers you that bad, take frequent breaks until you get it done. Or you can just get through it so you’re not taking more time on it. Either way, you cannot let them get to you emotionally because then you’ll be miserable.
Who is legal transcription NOT for?
This kind of goes with the skills. If you don’t have the skills listed above, then this kind of work may not be for you.
- People who aren’t reliable, dependable, or punctual.
- If you’ve had a problem making it to work on time, don’t pursue this kind of work.
- If you’re more of a people person, you’ll be miserable. You can still have communication with others, but it’ll mostly be online. Your social life will kind of dwindle a bit if you’re used to working outside the home.
- Slow typists.
- Poor researching skills.
- Poor organization skills.
How is being a legal transcriptionist different from a general transcriptionist?
There’s a huge difference. Legal transcription involves typing court proceedings or depositions from attorneys, which require knowledge of the law and legal terms.
Most of the time, clients want you to have some type of certification to work in legal. There are some that are willing to train you without a certification, but your chances of landing a job or personal clients are slim without it.
General transcription, however, includes typing podcasts, market research interviews, and anything that has nothing to do with legal, basically. You don’t necessarily need to know any special language with general transcription.
Of course, you’ll get some audio that requires research of terms you don’t know, but it’s not an extensive list of terms and they’re generally easier to find than legal terms. Plus, you don’t need any type of certification.
Is it ever a challenge to find clients/steady work?
Finding clients depends on how well you research. Are you looking for companies or personal clients? I’d say finding companies isn’t that difficult, but you must pass a test to work with them. Personal clients on the other hand, you must provide a reason for them to work with you. Why are you more special than a big-box company that’s cheaper?
I’ve been working with several companies over the past few years, and I’ve learned to have more than one egg in your basket. For example, I was contracted with 12 companies at once because I wanted to make dang sure I always had work when I wanted it.
However, if you do the same, I’d say be careful because some places require that you do so much to stay contracted with them. Out of the 12, I had 3 that required a certain amount done in a certain time frame. It wasn’t an unreachable amount, so it wasn’t that difficult. Just make sure you keep up with the time it’s been since your last project.
Now that I’m working on my own client list, it’s difficult to keep working while networking, but it’s not impossible. I do at least one thing every day to work on it, whether that’s email one attorney or one court, it’s something. I’m happy to report that I have two clients right now, and it’s been a little over a month since graduating from the legal course.
How many hours do you work a week?
That’s hard to say really. It just depends on the workflow. Generally, I work a regular 8-10 hour day. If I have tighter deadlines, I may work up to 14 hours or until it’s done. It’s not appealing to work that much, but the paycheck is worth it sometimes.
How has starting a home business changed your life?
The freedom is amazing! If I can help it, I won’t go back to working outside the home. I love being with my son all day. My daughters are school age, so they go to school all day.
Even though I work, we’ve developed a routine. I don’t have to worry about bosses breathing down my neck and telling me what to do all day. The only time anyone ever says anything now is when they’re checking on the progress of their transcript, which is awesome.
My husband works outside the home, and he gets jealous because I make almost as much as he does. But he’s grateful for me being here. He doesn’t have to worry about paying any of the bills or grocery shopping with me anymore.
Do you feel that legal transcription might be a good work-from-home career option for stay-at-home parents?
As long as you have the skills necessary, it is the best thing ever. I used to worry about a babysitter raising my kids, and I hated that thought.
I’m not going to say it’s easy with little kids because it’s not, but if you get on a schedule, even with kids under 5, it becomes easier to work around.
Any advice for someone who’s thinking about becoming a legal transcriptionist?
Make sure you have the equipment you need first and take a course or find a company that doesn’t require certification to gain some experience.
I started in general transcription, but I didn’t know there was such thing as legal first going in. Join transcription forums and research what legal is and make sure it’s something you want to pursue before putting you all into it.
Transcription isn’t for everyone, but how do you know if you don’t try?
Thank you, Brittany!
Legal transcription is a fascinating way to make a living from home, don’t you think?
If you’d like to learn more about how to become a legal transcriptionist, check out our comprehensive review of Legal Transcription: Theory & Practice which is the same course that Brittany took to become a thriving legal transcriptionist!
You can also take Janet Shaughnessy's free transcription introductory mini-course to learn more about if it's the right work-from-home business for you.
Do you have any questions about how to find legal transcription jobs from home? Let us know in the comments!