Legal Transcription Career Basics: Interview with Janet Shaughnessy
Do you need to have a legal background to become a legal transcriptionist? Can you do it remotely? Is it a real career that can provide real income? Is it suitable for stay-at-home moms or dads?… There are so many questions… Janet Shaughnessy, the creator of Transcribe Anywhere, provides some legal transcription career basics in this interview.
Janet has been a transcriptionist (general, legal, and medical) from home for many years. She has learned a lot along the way and developed two transcription courses – one on general transcription and the other on legal transcription. She is happy to share some of her knowledge regarding legal transcription with us today:
Janet, in your last interview with us, you explained a lot about general transcription. What is different about learning legal transcription besides the obvious fact that the documents are legal ones?
The mechanics of transcribing aren't different, so we cover that in both courses. In addition to being excellent with the “regular” usage of English grammar, spelling, and punctuation, there are additional rules and style formats for legal transcriptionists. There's a LOT of legal terminology to learn. We also cover the different types of law, the trial process, depositions, law enforcement, and offer training and practice specific to all of the ways industries employ legal transcriptionists.
Do you need a legal background to be able to become a good legal transcriptionist?
Not at all. It is possible to learn all the skills and knowledge you need to know to become an LT (legal transcriptionist). We cover everything an LT needs to know in our course, Legal Transcription: Theory and Practice. A legal background might be helpful in getting through the course quicker but is not a prerequisite.
Do you need certification to get a job as a legal transcriptionist?
Certification is available through AAERT. I'm not going to say it's unnecessary because it can be very helpful if your focus is on working with court reporters. In my business, I work with all sorts of clients (attorneys, law enforcement, etc.) who, believe it or not, have never even asked if I was certified. But, having said that, I did base the course around the AAERT guidelines. If you can pass the TA legal transcription course, you'll be able to pass the AAERT certification exam.
Is there much of a demand for legal transcription? Don’t court reporters transcribe proceedings on the spot?
There's a huge demand for legal transcriptionists. Many digital court reporters hire transcriptionists to transcribe from the audio and their notes.
It's more cost-effective for them to outsource the transcription while they attend another hearing or deposition.
Also, what a lot of people fail to think about is all of the other industries that employ transcriptionists — lawyers, law enforcement, insurance companies — to name a few.
Is the turnaround time for legal transcription shorter than for general transcription? Would it be more difficult for moms who have limited time resources to succeed in this field?
Nope. The normal turnaround time for legal transcripts is generally 7 to 10 days. Expedited requests are charged at a higher rate.
Can you make a decent income even doing this part-time?
Absolutely. I'd say more than 50% of transcriptionists work part-time. Since most of us work as independent contractors, we set our own schedules.
Can an LT work remotely? I.e. could a mom (or dad) do it from home?
Yes, LTs (legal transcriptionists) can work remotely. That's what our course focuses on. We give you the skills and resources to qualify you to work from home, or anywhere, as a legal transcriptionist.
Working from home – does that mean having a remote job in a company or is it possible to get your own clients?
Some LTs will work for larger transcription companies and some may choose to obtain their own clients. It's up to the individual. We give you the resources and tools for both options.
What types of skills are needed to become a legal transcriptionist? Are they different than for general transcription?
A legal transcriptionist needs all the skills of a general transcriptionist with the addition of a basic understanding of the law, legal terminology, and style and formatting guidelines for the legal profession.
What types of costs do you have to start a career in legal transcription?
You'll need to obtain training from a reputable instructor and obtain the software and hardware that you'll need. None of it needs to be expensive.
Which do you enjoy more – legal or general transcription?
I can't say I enjoy one more than the other. The legal field has always been interesting to me. In another life, I think I would have been a lawyer. But general transcription offers such a diversity of clients and projects to work on that I really love that too. I learn new things every day!
Do you have any suggestions for moms (or dads) who are considering this as a work-from-home career option?
Try our transcription mini-course. It's free and you can get a feel for the profession and decide whether you want to pursue it as a career without a financial commitment.
Thank you, Janet.
Interested in finding out more for yourself?
Interested in learning more about legal transcription? Check out our comprehensive review of the course.
If legal matters are not for you and you would prefer a diversity of topics to transcribe and learn about you might prefer Janet's General Transcription course.
Have you ever tried transcription? Do you think it is suitable for stay-at-home moms or dads? Or do you have any questions? Either way, feel free to comment below:
Very interesting interview on working as a legal transcriptionist from home. I am amazed – I thought you would need schooling and degree to do this type of work. I also never realized there was such a high demand for this career. You answered just about every question possible someone would think of asking in this interview. This looks like an interesting career to look into…
One question though: You said that the course equips you with the skills to get your own clients or work for a larger company. Which is the better option?
Though you don’t need a degree, you do need to be taught the required skills. Simply knowing how to type won’t get you clients or a job! 🙂 The nice thing about Janet’s course is that it is all-inclusive. She teaches the transcription skills along with marketing skills so that you not only know the trade, but have the know-how to get work.
This leads to your question which you would actually have to answer yourself. It really depends on you – whether you prefer to have a boss or be a boss, whether you have the discipline to work on your own from home, whether you enjoy marketing your skills, etc
Hope this helps!
Excellent information! It seems like a good route to go if you want to learn this potentially profitable business at your own pace. I work with Doctors and know how important a good transcriptionist is. Although this course does not include medical transcription, it does teach speed and efficiency, which are 2 aspects I hear from the doctors that are most important.
Excellent review, thank you for the information.
Glad you liked it, Rachel.
General and legal transcription seem to be more in demand than medical transcription these days. Janet herself has done medical transcription, but hasn’t developéd a course for it so far as the other two streams seem to provide many more opportunities. That said if you have the skills to market yourself, and are good at what you do, you can usually profit in any of these fields.