09 Feb Finding the right legal transcription service provider during a pandemic
Has the need for a legal transcription service changed as a result of the pandemic? 2020 saw the introduction of a new common parlance – one that we all understand – with the likes of ‘social distancing’, ‘self-isolation’, ‘Hands. Face. Space’ and, of course, ‘COVID’ itself, among many other terms.
The age-old tradition of your average Joe Bloggs needing a translator to deconstruct legal terminology, of course, remains, and it’s interesting to contemplate the profound impact the pandemic has had on the legal profession. Lawyers and representatives across the globe are treading never-before-traversed ground in their day-to-day work, whatever their area of expertise, especially in areas like employment law with the introduction of job retention schemes such as the UK’s own Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and also when it comes to businesses enacting the force majeure clause in any number of circumstances.
So, has the legal process changed, or just the processes enabling a firm’s workers to fulfil their duties to protect their clients’ physical, mental and financial wellbeing, as well as that of its own staff?
Legal transcription services have been called upon for years to outsource arduous, time-consuming admin, documenting and reporting. Across its many and varied specialisms, this is a constant, as there is always a need for an up-to-date archive of records – evidence, data, and all vital information required for ethical, compliance and reference purposes.
However, in today’s new working world, are these records all being captured efficiently with virtual meetings, sporadic visits to offices and working from home (in some cases with home schooling or other care added to the day job), all of which is subject to quite drastic change in a short space of time? All legal firms have a duty to uphold these practices as a fundamental part of day-to-day compliance operations.
How are new technologies like dictation and intelligent transcription services helping busy legal teams?
The provision of quality, comprehensive and professionally proofed records is key to documenting any terms of engagement and subsequent client correspondence, any meeting or call content, contractual information, and even in-house admin such as employee appraisals, disciplinaries, marketing material, etc. Whether meetings, calls or communications are virtual or in-person, if carried out correctly and thoroughly, this record-keeping takes a great deal of time. Nonetheless, it’s an incredibly important part of the provision of evidence for any future formal or compliance needs after the event. Records like this, if needed, may be called on months or even years later, so ensuring you have a rigorous and effective process in place for capturing them is key.
A person can speak – or dictate – a lot faster than they can type themselves, even if they are proficient at it. Lawyers and solicitors often charge their clients by the hour, so the more work for the client they can accomplish during that time, the better for their reputation, as opposed to billing for hours and hours of admin tasks that the client reaps no direct benefit from but pays for nonetheless. The same logic applies to pre-recorded audio that requires a transcript. The work is already done – the evidence is there – and ‘doing the work again’, i.e. typing up the phone call, conversation or meeting, could be outsourced to a quality transcription and proofreading company like VoiceNotes.
Some examples of specific documents lawyers and solicitors use legal transcription services for are (but are not limited to): letters of engagement and other client correspondence, typing up of new or proofreading of existing contract templates, compiling conveyancing paperwork/correspondence, onboarding and off-boarding documentation, quality transcripts of vital conversations that have been recorded, plus any sensitive communications that you may prefer to outsource for safe, secure transcription to avoid doing in-house.
Legal services and COVID-19
The exceptional circumstances that businesses and firms find themselves adapting to in this new world call for increased diligence when it comes to documenting any meetings, conversations and/or events that affect day-to-day operations. This is likely to be the case for some time to come, and we would envisage that in a post-COVID world, this may be one of the many aspects of operations within a company that may change irrevocably. With virtual meetings very much being considered ‘normal’ at the moment (with the resumption of socially-distanced, face-to-face meetings in the hopefully not-too-distant future), there is a new dynamic to communication between employers and employees and employees and clients alike, especially with uncertainty reigning so prominently over when and how businesses will return to anything resembling their pre-COVID operations. The services of solicitors and lawyers will always be needed, and for many, it will be ‘business as usual’ (as close to ‘usual’ as it’s possible to be). The same high standards of service that legal firms provide to their clients is expected to be upheld, but in addition to that, with teams working remotely, the health and welfare of workers is paramount. This is true in any company, in any sector; employers have a duty of care to their employees – arguably more so now, as some workers struggle not being in an office environment – leading to a potentially increased need to conduct meetings in-house and hence more recording of outcomes and any next steps.
Thus, the requirement for quality data and records within a business is, if possible, even more important now as we navigate this storm and, indeed, will be in the months and years ahead when we reflect on, and learn from, our actions during this time, which will prove invaluable as we inevitably focus more time and resource on preparing for extreme events such as COVID-19. A legal transcription company will enable all discussions to have an accurate transcript and allow pertinent employee-related information to be documented indefinitely and concisely.
How much time does it take to get set up with a legal transcription service provider?
Whether uploading files or using a secure dictation tool, it doesn’t take long. Time should be taken on due diligence when researching an appropriate service provider to make sure the operations and confidentiality of said service provider match your own ethics and requirements.
Established and up-to-date transcription companies have their own smart systems, including VoiceNotes, enabling you to dictate a summary of a meeting using your phone to a secure system, where it is typed and proofread by a human proofreading team, and then emailed back to you. At VoiceNotes, your dictation passes through no fewer than two professionals – a typist and an editorial-grade proofreader – to ensure accuracy. This is call reporting for legal services, or as we would like to call it, our ‘secure legal transcription service’.
You can also upload or send in audio files to the same secure system, to be processed in the same way – this could be a recorded phone call or videoconference call, etc. VoiceNotes’ legal transcription team is very flexible in meeting its clients’ needs.
How long does it take to turn around meeting notes?
It depends on the expertise of the service and how they are set up. Some are experts in call reporting and deliver notes back before you’ve made your next cup of coffee! Generally, longer turnaround times – 48 hours or two business days – are common. We appreciate that sometimes busy legal teams may need meeting notes and transcripts back ASAP, and we have many years’ experience in adapting to meet specific client needs and deadlines and do everything we can to help.
What to look for when choosing a legal transcription services company
Predominantly, a proven track record of supplying top-quality logs and evidence, transcripts and other written documents to highly professional clients in the safest and most secure way possible. At VoiceNotes, we understand that the legal profession is highly complex, multi-faceted and specialist, but its fundamental purpose of ensuring continuity of operations and functionality will always remain; transparency and clarity through record-keeping will always be needed to facilitate this, and a go-to transcription company could be the perfect complement.
Also, check a company’s client base to see the credibility of firms willing to be listed as clients – for our client list, please click here.
How safe is outsourcing data to a legal transcription service provider?
If fully ISO 27001 compliant, they should operate to the strictest of security standards. Systems should be VPN, password and two-factor authentication protected. Companies that faithfully operate to ISO 27001 standards are as secure as it’s possible to be, and if you are looking to outsource sensitive and highly confidential data, you can do so with the utmost confidence. As a transcription company is responsible for sensitive client data day in, day out, private and confidential information, legal information/evidence and material of a sensitive nature pertaining to employees, clients or employee/client disputes, etc (as well as any other data that passes through its ‘doors’) should always be held in the strictest confidence.
Author: Sarah Wildblood – Marketing Manager & Proofreader for VoiceNotes Ltd – a secure and accurate (human) transcription company specialising in meeting notes from face-to-face and virtual/online meetings plus transcription of audio files for legal and compliance record-keeping purposes.