In most legal matters these days, there’s no escaping audiovisual materials. Whether we’re talking recordings of Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings, social media posts, or old-fashioned voicemails, there’s a good chance that during the discovery process, parties to litigation will be producing and receiving productions of audiovisual materials, which means their eDiscovery teams will need to review them before they produce them or after they receive them.
Thankfully, legal transcription software has automated the process of creating written transcripts of audiovisual materials. This software can transcribe recordings more quickly and reliably than manual transcription, allowing lawyers and eDiscovery staff to find and review audiovisual materials that contain important search terms in a fraction of time they used to need, which can bring down eDiscovery costs.
Looking for video call recordings where someone talks about the contract that’s at the center of your legal matter?
Looking for voicemails that mention the code name employees used to discuss allegedly unlawful conduct?
Looking for voice memos that an executive sent their assistant that you believe contain smoking gun language?
Each of these is a task made easier to complete thanks to legal transcription software.
Hear Ye, Hear Ye: The Basics of Legal Transcription Software
Simply stated, legal transcription software provides text readouts of audio or video recordings. With a transcription in hand, you can then perform text-based searches to find relevant recordings. And when you find those recordings, transcriptions allow you to review the substance of them faster than listening to or viewing them.
Before transcription software, document reviewers had to watch or listen to recordings at a snail’s pace to painstakingly transcribe what was said on the recording. This is a slow, tedious process that carries the risk of errors when a reviewer mishears what is said on a recording. Multiply the time it takes to complete this process by possibly hundreds or—gulp—thousands of audiovisual recordings, and you see how painful manual transcription can be.
Today’s legal transcription software can transcribe recordings more quickly and accurately than manual processes—often in no more than a few minutes. That’s quite the timesaver considering that it can take several times the length of a recording for a person to manually transcribe it, especially if they need to stop the recording when a lot is said in a short amount of time, or if they need to rewind to catch a difficult-to-understand statement. As a result, manually transcribing a 20-minute recording can take an hour or more.
Law firms and corporations have a number of choices when it comes to legal transcription software. While vendors offer standalone transcription tools, in recent years many eDiscovery tools have integrated transcription software into their platforms, giving their users more bang for their buck. Integrated transcription tools automatically transcribe recordings as they are uploaded into the eDiscovery platform, further cutting down on the time and cost of legal transcription. Newer tools leverage AI legal transcription to enhance the accuracy of transcriptions, particularly for recordings with poor audio quality or multiple people talking over each other where it can be difficult to parse out who said what.
Legal transcription software brings many benefits, but there is one potential negative for law firms and companies that like to resist producing large amounts of documents: Litigants will have a harder time successfully arguing they should not be required to produce large quantities of audiovisual materials on the grounds that their pre-production review of those materials would be unduly burdensome.
Choosing the Right Legal Transcription Software
With so many legal transcription software solutions on the market—as either standalone products or integrated into eDiscovery tools—a company or law firm should evaluate the reasons why it needs to transcribe audiovisual materials to determine which solution it should use. For example, if transcriptions are needed in anticipation of a legal matter, a company or firm will want a software tool that offers easy playback functionality and culling capabilities, along with features that prevent inadvertent disclosure of privileged or confidential information.
When choosing the right legal transcription software, companies and firms should ask themselves a number of questions to determine the right software for their needs, including:
- How accurate is the software?
- Does it leverage AI?
- How well does it handle difficult-to-hear portions of recordings?
- What kinds of search functionality does the software have?
- Can we use the transcript to skip to the corresponding part of the recording?
- Does the software provide collaboration, review, tagging, and redaction features?
- Can the software identify potentially privileged or confidential recordings?
- How does the software handle corrupted or encrypted files?
- What kind of security does the software use?
- What is the cost of the software and are there any hidden fees we should know about?
For organizations that need to use transcription software in connection with a legal matter, such as an internal investigation or a lawsuit, having transcription tools built into an eDiscovery platform may be the best option. eDiscovery solutions like Logikcull contain transcription tools so legal teams can transcribe and review audiovisual materials in one secure place.
With Logikcull, audiovisual recordings are automatically transcribed, timestamped, and indexed for searching as they are uploaded to the platform. Logikcull also offers searching capabilities beyond keywords, such as from/to, file type, or personally identifiable information. The platform also offers the VoiceTouch function, which allows users to click on any word or phrase in a transcript to jump to that part of the recording. As a fully integrated eDiscovery platform, Logikcull also allows users to redact confidential or privileged information from audiovisual recordings prior to production, as well as prepare them for production.
As machine learning and artificial intelligence gets better, legal transcription software solutions will continue to get quicker and more accurate. AI-powered transcription software is already producing high-quality transcriptions of recordings that are difficult or tedious to transcribe manually. Future versions of legal transcription software will likely allow for more granular searches, identification of potentially privileged information, easier playback/review, and automated redaction capabilities.
Corporations and law firms should stay on top of advancements in legal transcription software to ensure they have tools that can meet their organizations’ eDiscovery needs efficiently and cost effectively.