IMPLEMENTING TRANSCRIPTION IN YOUR OFFICE
Typists are readily available; however, stenographers are very difficult to find. Adept stenographers also charge heavily, making them unaffordable for young lawyers.
The difference between a typist and a stenographer is the skill of 'short-hand', which is difficult to master. Moreover, efficiently jotting down the dictation in short-hand, and typing the draft without many mistakes, also requires high english proficiency.
Implementing transcription technology in your office will turn any typist (with basic english knowledge) into an efficient stenographer.
In this post, I explained the hardware and software required to implement transcription in your office, followed by 3 usage scenarios to demonstrate its effective usage work-flow.
EQUIPMENT REQUIRED FOR TRANSCRIPTION
Transcription software: A basic transcription software is essentially an audio player, with several options to modulate the recorded speech. It also connects to an external foot-pedal along with customisation options.
Let me clarify that several speech recognition software also have automatic transcription options. However, when I refer to 'transcription software', I mean the audio playing software, not the speech recognition software (Read my post on can a dictation software replace your stenographer/typist?).
Philips offers a transcription software along with a cloud transcription process (Phillips SpeechLive). However, their product is ridiculously expensive and wholly unnecessary.
Express Scribe costs around USD 80 (at the time of writing this post, it is being sold at a discounted price of USD 40).
Foot-pedal: Imagine you have to type out a full draft from a recording; using your hands to toggle between the audio playing software and the word processor to rewind, forward or pause, will continuously break the typing flow.
Hence, a "Foot-Pedal".
A foot-pedal typically has 2 to 3 buttons, which could be customised though the transcription software to play, pause, forward, rewind, the recoding in numerous ways without ever lifting your hand from the keyboard.
Phillips has a range of foot-pedals and is a well known brand in this segment. I also came across a local manufacturer in Delhi, who sells good quality foot-pedals, at a fraction of Phillips's price.
A good headset along with a sound amplifier: Your typist also requires a good headset to clearly hear the recording. An external sound amplifier will further help to enhance the sound in case the recording is feeble.
A set of foot-pedal along with a sound amplifier will cost around INR 2,000/- (as per the price list of local manufacture suggested above).
Voice Recording App: Phillips also offers a line of high end voice recording devices. High quality voice recording is only required if you want to transcribe through speech recognition software. However, I personally never found full utility in a speech recognition software for transcription (Read my post on can a dictation software replace your stenographer/typist?)
There is no necessity to buy an expensive speech recording device if you have a personal typist. All you need is a good app on your phone. In this segment, Phillips offers a free app (available on iOS and Android). The app comes with full dictation functionality, including options to insert, overwrite, delete, etc during dictation.
POSSIBLE USAGE SCENARIOS
Normal dictation: If you are accustomed to dictation through Stenographer, you can follow the same work-flow even with your typist for transcription. The only difference will be that your typist will be recording your dictation, unlike the stenographer who notes down the dictation in short-hand.
Recording yourself for later transcription: If you are away from your office and want to dictate a draft, you could record the draft on your phone and save the dictation on your cloud or send the voice file in a message. Your typist can later transcribe the dictation, with the audio file available on cloud or his inbox.
You can also use this process while briefing Senior Advocates. Very often, seniors suddenly dictate notes in conferences. Instead of struggling to jot them down, you can simply voice-record their notes (of course, with their permission), to be later transcribed by your typist.
One of the drawbacks in this process is that you cannot give elaborate personal instructions.
If you are away from your desk and want to give full dictation, with heavy personal instructions, the next method is for your.
Through Skype or Zoom conference call: If you are away from your desk or working from home, an effective way to dictate your draft with personal instructions to your typist, is through a Skype or Zoom conference call. Both Skype and Zoom have options to record the entire conference calls. This very recording can be used as the audio file for transcription.
Using this work flow-flow, multiple offices can also employ a common typist as there is no necessity for personal interaction in this process.
Freelance typists can also cater to multiple advocates from home.
Apart from an advocate's office, digital transcription could also have immense utility for the judiciary. Tribunals and Courts, especially at District and Mofussil levels, are seriously understaffed in terms of stenographers. Transcription could be implemented in these forums, at least on experimental basis, to evaluate its prospects.