Just like any field, in order to thrive as a legal transcriptionist you will need to make sure you are the best. No one starts off as the best, but there are some things you can do directly from the beginning to make sure your clients are happy with your work, even when you mess up. If you are just getting started as a legal transcriber and trying to find clients, these tips will help you gain clients and confidence along the way.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
The most important thing in any relationship is communication. Legal transcribers work on deadlines, and the information they are typing is critical to legal proceedings, so you need to make sure everything is completed in a timely manner and the file is as close to perfect as possible. That means letting clients know if there are problems with the audio, checking on spelling of names, and re-reading instructions to ensure everything is completed as requested.
Proofread Everything, Then Do It Again
Accuracy is imperative in legal transcripts and if you just rely on spell check you will miss critical errors! Even the best of us end up typing one version of a word when we meant to type another, especially when we are trying to increase our speed to earn more money or finish a job on a tight deadline. If you are just starting, always try to finish a job a day ahead of time so you can take a break and come back to proofread at a later time. You’ll be able to focus better and catch mistakes.
Create a Checklist
Workflow will get easier as you learn all of the details of transcribing, but even if you are an old pro a checklist will help you make sure you didn’t miss anything. Just like proofreading, going over your checklist twice will help you avoid missing a step.
Be a Great Listener
Obviously you need to listen intently when transcribing a legal proceeding, but you also need to listen to your clients. Not all clients are direct when giving you instructions, so you need to make sure you understand what they are asking for, and if you aren’t sure then you need to communicate to clear any misunderstandings. When you have multiple clients it can get easy to assume each one wants things the same way, so listening to their instructions will be important.
Use Your Style Guide
Each legal proceeding, client, or court has a style guide for how the transcript should look when it is completed. Don’t be afraid to reference it frequently, especially as you change work from one client to another.
I learned this the hard way and talk about it in the transcription course a lot, but moving on from a spot in the audio where you can’t make out a word or phrase will help you decrease frustration. Ironically it will also make you more likely to understand it when you come back to it later. I give myself three listens and then I simply mark it and move on.
Increase Your Skills
Of course increasing your skills is always warranted! Not only will your transcripts get better, but you’ll be able to take on additional work in different mediums. Work on increasing typing speed, learning new software, listening to accents, and making sure you understand legal terms.
If you work these tips consistently you will be able to wow your clients and grow your business like never before!