Why Voice-To-Text Is Not An Option For Legal Transcriptions


Why Voice-To-Text Is Not An Option For Legal Transcriptions

Voice or speech-to-text apps are available on tablets and smartphones and are used for everything from sending messages and making notes to dictation and translation. Some examples of software used for dictation include Speechnotes, Google Docs voice typing, Simon, Verbit and Dragon by Nuance. While technological advances make nearly everything easier and more convenient today, should law firms rely on this technology? The short answer is no, voice-to-text is not an option for legal transcriptions. Those interested in learning more may want to consider reaching out to Kusar Court Reporters at 800-282-3376.

How Speech-to Text Apps Work

Speech recognition technology is used in apps utilizing software that “listens” to an audio file and interprets what was said. This is a somewhat complicated process involving the conversion of sound waves to digital data and removal of background noise. The software contains a bank of familiar words and sentences the data is compared to, then displays what it believes was said. Some of the reasons voice-to-text is not an option for legal transcriptions include:

  • Audio recorded must be clear and intelligible
  • Voice commands must be provided for punctuation
  • Accents, pronunciation, and background noise interfere with clean recordings
  • Only one person should speak at a time
  • Speech data often requires human edits
  • Difficulty interpreting complex terminology or low-quality audio

Attorneys, judges, and expert witnesses often use complex terminology, one of the many reasons law firms should not rely on speech-to-text technology.

Voice-to-Text Technology Cannot Outperform Court Reporters

The primary objective for law firms is to reach the desired outcome for their clients. Without clear transcripts, plaintiffs and defendants may not get a fair trial. It is crucial that a court reporter is available to read back notes regarding what was said in real-time disputes, which occur regularly in trials. Many court cases involve multiple defendants and are complex. A daily transcript benefits attorneys in several ways including:

  • Cross examination of witnesses
  • Preparation of closing arguments
  • Keeping track of all defendants’ testimony
  • Jurors do not have to rely on their memories of the testimony – portions of the transcript can be displayed on PowerPoint

With voice-to-text technology there are often times when audio recording transcripts have potentially vital chunks missing due to someone’s speech being inaudible or sounding garbled. Incomplete or incoherent transcripts make crafting appeals much more difficult. The justice system should provide justice, particularly for those accused of committing a crime. An experienced and skilled court reporter will get every detail correct so that attorneys feel confident in the accuracy and completeness of their transcripts. According to the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT), voice-to-text or automated transcripts are of significantly lower quality than those qualified transcribers produce, and difficult for proofreaders to transform into transcripts of high quality. Law firms in need of outstanding litigation support may want to visit with Kusar Court Reporters.

Four Key Differences Between Dictation and Legal Transcription

For this purpose, we are defining dictation as what is spoken into a recording device, and legal transcription as what is typed by a real person. In the legal arena, the two are quite similar and both may be useful in certain circumstances. Some of the key differences between dictation and legal transcription are highlighted below.


Dictated audio recordings are not always high-quality due to faulty equipment, surroundings, or other factors. In a crowded environment, audio recordings can be hard if not impossible to understand. Transcriptionists, on the other hand, can focus solely on the content and deliberately eliminating unnecessary sounds. Ultimately, technology cannot compete with the human element when it comes to quality.

The Time Factor

Every law firm knows that legal transcription involves written shorthand or the creation of an audio recording which is typed up. Dictation is usually quicker and happens almost simultaneously. This may be beneficial in some situations, but legal transcription is more easily understood and digested.

Computers vs. a Real Person

The quality of a dictated recording may vary tremendously depending on the software that is used, background noise, or other people speaking that do not contribute to information that is helpful or useful. Legal transcription involves a human who will type up an audio recording, edit as needed for sounds and filler words that are not necessary, make notes, and ensure a high-quality transcription. Modern dictation cannot compare to the human element in legal matters.

Ease of Use

Most motions must be in the form of written documents for many courts today which do not accept recorded dictation. Legal transcriptions are simple to use for additional documents that may need to be produced for your legal team and can be stored for future reference. In some cases, family members who could not attend trial or clients may want their own records of certain material, which is easily shared with legal transcriptions. Dictation may be useful when attorneys do not need to keep notes for any length of time or share them. It is also useful for setting reminders, delegating tasks, and taking notes along with other tasks according to the American Bar Association.

It is also important to note legal transcriptions can be shared more easily than dictated audio recordings, which can be difficult to navigate. With a text file it is possible to share specific sections, paragraphs, or sentences of a transcription when it is not necessary to share the entire transcript. With dictation, it can be frustrating to rewind, pause, or skip forward repeatedly when searching for a specific quote. Compared to legal transcription or text files that take up little disk space and memory, dictation consumes more of both.

Consider Contacting Kusar Court Reporters Today

Voice-to-text is not an option for legal transcriptions for law firms with high expectations that their transcripts are complete and correct in every detail. What is said by the client, witnesses, and attorneys on both sides is vital to the outcome of the case. Relying on digital technology alone without human involvement is potentially risky, to say the least. Law firms in need of exceptional litigation support may want to consider contacting Kusar Court Reporters now at 800-282-3376.

Subscribe to Email List

    Join Our Mailing List
    Receive Occasional Industry/Company-Related Emails

    Get in Touch

        Join Our Mailing List
        Receive Occasional Industry/Company-Related Emails