Experienced and well-equipped professional transcription service providers convert audio regarding legal matters into text. The South African Constitution entrenches a legal system of constitutional democracy with a justifiable Bill of Human Rights. Therefore, to maintain the bill of human rights, the South African legal system value transcription services. They play a vital role in the flow of information, the legal process, legal teams and the public also rely on transcriptions. Whether they occur inside or outside a courtroom, most legal proceedings are recorded. Regardless of the method used to capture legal conversations, clients require transcribing into the correct formats available for referral. Attorneys and legal teams rely on legal transcription services in South Africa to plan cases and construct winning legal strategies.

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What is a Legal Transcriptionist?

Legal transcriptionists listen to audio or watch footage of legal situations, dictated audio by attorneys, paralegals, and other legal professionals and then transcribe them into legal documents. A legal transcriptionist should not be confused with court reporters who transcribe in real-time. Court reporters must be attentive as they sit in court proceedings transcribing every dialogue word-for-word, meaning there is no room for mistakes.  For a transcriber, there is also no room for errors as their work needs to be accurate, but the difference is one transcribes in real-time while the other listens to audio to transcribe. Additionally, legal transcriptionists may also perform a range of crucial functions that fall under the purview of categories of legal assistant occupations.

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Transcriptionists Occupation

Legal transcriptions keep a precise record of legal proceedings like interrogations, evidence audio, and attorney dictation regarding the statuses of cases and meetings. Legal transcriptions are a convenience for attorneys, they are accessible, provide precision, assist law students with being familiar with the action that goes on in the court even if they cannot be there, what happens in court proceedings, and transcriptions accommodate defendant appeals. Audio and video evidence are much easier to review when it’s in the form of text. So there is no reason to go back and forth watching the video or listening to audio. Transcriptionists simplify matters with clear-cut listening skills to produce a transcript or automatic subtitles. A legal transcriptionist may work in a variety of settings within the legal system, on a typical day, they may transcribe things like:

  • 911 calls
  • Legal meetings
  • Wiretaps
  • Conference calls
  • Witness interviews
  • Hearings
  • Depositions
  • Jury instructions
  • Interrogations

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Multilingual Transcription

Multilingual transcription is a combination of audio transcription and translation. It is used when the audio is in one language, but a written record is required for an end client working in a different language. Considering South Africa has 11 official languages, multilingual transcriptions are in demand. English is considered the lingua franca of South Africa as it is the language of instruction used in media and government. But most people speak isiXhosa and isiZulu, with English being the fourth spoken language in South Africa, meaning people speak other languages. With the constitution embracing all 11 languages, conversations regarding legal matters may be in one language and may require transcription in another language.

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Things to Consider Before Appointing a Legal Transcript

Since South Africa has many languages, transcriptionists must be on top of their game. Therefore, they must be accurate in their transcriptions for official matters. The transcriber needs to be aware of professional jargon as there are numerous specific terms in the legal domain which are known to professionals. Transcribers need to be consistently producing texts on time. They need to acknowledge the value of confidentiality within the field, where in some cases, transcribers will be asked to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Legal compliance, any way of producing a transcript is legal, as long as it’s accurate and secure. Therefore, finding a qualified transcriptionist with all of those qualities will be simple if you contact a language service provider. Agencies have a reputation to uphold, for this reason, agencies link clients with certified transcriptionists providing excellent results.

Zulu Translation acknowledges that South Africa, known as the Rainbow Nation because of its diversity of cultures and languages, truly lives up to its moniker. We know that the rich diversity does not stop in professional sectors, especially in the legal sector. This is why we are here to bridge any language gaps that may occur in the legal field. We hire qualified transcriptionists ensuring our team is familiar with the terminologies of the legal field. This eliminates any chances of inaccuracies. Zulu Translation is committed to providing the level of quality and services that our clients require. We have a strict confidentiality policy, protecting clients’ information as they entrust us with it. Our legal transcription services will save your law firm time and money by translating your legal recording into text.


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This article discusses legal transcription services in South Africa. Attorneys and legal teams rely on legal transcription services to plot their cases and construct winning legal strategies.
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September 21, 2022