Taking notes is a normal practice during office meetings. These notes offer a quick reference to the discussion and allow you to review ideas, information, decisions, objectives, action items, deadlines and other relevant matters. But writing notes is tedious and interrupts the natural flow of the conversation. A better alternative is to record and capture the discussion using meeting transcription software and have these notes turned into high-quality documents with the help of an audio transcription company.
Meeting transcription software and apps are handy and capture the most important information with speed and efficiency. The technology works with a speech-to-text algorithm – a voice or video recorder captures the conversation and when the file is uploaded to the software, it is converted into text. Today, meetings have gone remote which makes it even more important to use quality meeting software to ensure clear, accurate documentation. Here is a review of the 6 best software tools for calls or meeting transcription.
- otter.ai: This AI-powered assistant can provide rich notes for meetings and many other important voice conversations. It offers real-time transcription and automated meeting summaries. It is easy to set up and use and works from the browser. The conversations can be accessed from any device. This intuitive app can be trained to recognize speakers’ voice print and can therefore capture conversations among multiple persons. Automated recording and transcription make it easy to review the transcribed text in real-time and search through voice conversations quickly. Otter is ideal for team collaboration as it allows you to share voice notes with others. Otter offers Basic, Pro, Business, and Enterprise Plans, Pricing is calculated per user. The Business Plan costs $240 USD per user per year (yearly savings). A 10-day free trial is available.
- Zoom: With video conferencing, advanced cloud recording and real-time transcription, Zoom is ideal in organizations that conduct meetings on a regular basis. Zoom partners with Otter to provide real-time transcripts. According to a Forbes article, this is an ideal option when you needs “billions of hours of audio” to be transcribed. Participants can access a live transcript directly from Zoom to follow as the meeting is in progress. They can also review the transcript and read it at their own pace. Zoom transcripts encourage collaboration. Users annotate their notes in real-time, highlight points, add comments, and include photos to create meeting notes that all participants can review and share. Zoom’s Business Plan costs $199.90 per year per license. A free trial is available.
- Threads: When it comes to calls transcription, Threads is an ideal option. This transcription software quickly captures all VoIP calls made from your network, independent of the telephone system in use. The calls are stored in a secure cloud database. This software accurately transcribes the calls and makes them fully searchable. Threads are equipped with a shared email inbox feature, allowing team members to access call recordings and transcriptions and extract information, which increases productivity. In addition to the secure cloud database, top features include full context, CRM integration, and exceptional search functionalities. A Threads subscription starts at $30 per month for 5GB worth of storage (pricing is storage-based). A free 14-day trial is available.
- Fireflies.ai: This tool allows you to instantly capture meetings and calls directly from the browser across any web-conferencing platform, and transcribes live meetings or audio files uploaded on it. Users can skim the transcripts while listening to the audio, add comments or mark highlights to collaborate with team members on important points. Users can search across action items and other important highlights. Fireflies Business costs $19 per month Per User when billed annually or $29 monthly. Sign up is free.
- Trint : Trint offers quick and accurate transcription of both video and audio files and allows you to edit the text and collaborate at the same place. Audio and video files are also searchable. Audio and time-stamped transcription can be accessed side by side, allowing the text to be corrected and edited. The completed transcripts can be emailed quickly. Trint is secure, user-friendly, and compatible with different file formats. One unique feature is that this app can accurately differentiate between UK and US English. Trint’s Pro Team Plan costs $68 per month per user. It also comes with a free trial.
- TranscribeMe: This meeting transcription service offers a hybrid model that blends speech recognition technology and human transcriptionists to produce accurate, high-quality transcripts. Voice recognition software converts speech to text and provides automated quality checks. Peer reviews by professionals ensure error-free transcripts. In addition to speaker IDs and timestamps, there are security protocols and processes in place to ensure that all information is encrypted and securely maintained. TranscribeMe’s Verbatim Plan costs $2 per minute. There is no free trial.
Though meeting transcription software offers several benefits, accuracy is a common concern across all of them. In a productive team meeting, many important decisions are made. Partnering with an online transcription company can help businesses document these details accurately, which is important for participants to understand their responsibilities and follow through on commitments.
Depositions are conducted to gather facts and clarify details before the trial and can extract valuable information that would otherwise remain unknown or disputed. Deposition transcription provides courts, attorneys and their clients with a record of the event and helps the attorney prepare for further legal proceedings. Presenting an accurate and exact account of events is crucial to discover all the facts and information known to the witnesses and promote a fair trial.
A deposition allows attorneys to find out what the witness knows and preserve this testimony. The session also allows the attorney to gauge the behaviour of the witness while testifying. Accurate, verbatim legal transcription of witness testimonies can support attorneys presenting video or audio recordings as evidence in court and improve their chances of a positive outcome. Let’s take a look at what attorneys can do to produce accurate deposition transcripts.
- Pay attention to the equipment: Today, remote depositions have become the rule due to the pandemic driven social distancing requirements. This is a major challenge for most litigators. JD Supra’s survey of national court reporters who are responsible for creating accurate records that successful record of every spoken word, threw light on the “behaviour of litigators who were able to successfully conduct depositions during the past year”.The court reporters noted that the litigators used equipment that could ensure top-quality audio. Optimizing room acoustics is essential not only to maintain flow and clarity but also for accurate transcription. Before setting up the microphones, attorneys need to consider factors such as the number of speakers in the room as well as those joining online or by phone. Here are some tips to enhance audio:
- Place microphones in all strategic locations
- Use headphones that have a built-in microphone
- Test the microphone and recording device
- Make sure the microphone is placed close to the speaker’s mouth
- Minimize background distractions and sounds
- Optimize volume, use an audio limiter
- Use a sound editor
Though experienced legal transcription service providers can transcribe audio recordings in any file format, recording in MP4, MP3 or WAV.
- Advise participants on how to speak: Speakers should identify themselves before speaking and be advised not to speak over each other. If there are multiple voices, it can be difficult to make out who is speaking. The JD Supra survey reported that effective control over crosstalk during the deposition was the most frequently cited factor in creating an accurate deposition transcript. If cross-talk happens, the attorney should ask the speaker their name. To maintain a clear record in the transcript, the witness must also wait for counsel to complete a question before answering it. This will ensure a correct response to the question asked, and give the defence counsel the opportunity to object to an improper question (goldbergsegalla.com).
Prior to the deposition, deponents should be told about the importance of clear communication, including avoiding verbal utterances such as Uh Uh, Huh, an Oh Oh, Yes, No and I Don’t Understand. This is necessary to avoid miscommunication and misinterpretation, and to also speed up the deposition process by eliminating the time spent on asking for clarifications.
- Spell out unfamiliar words: While court reporters and deposition transcription service providers are well-versed in legal terminology, it’s important to spell out unfamiliar words to ensure accurate transcripts. In fact, the court reporters who participated in the JD Supra survey included this practice in their list of successful attorney behaviours. Attorneys must also take care not to speak too fast.
- Provide the court reporter with the necessary information in advance: To help court reporters with accurate transcription, attorneys should provide detailed information about the case ahead of time, including spelling of participants’ names, place names, and technical terms. Where possible, digital exhibits should be pre-marked and uploaded in advance. The court reporter should also have access to documents referenced during the deposition. One Attorney can also help court reporters by going over the exhibits and unusual spelling after the deposition is over. In fact, this was cited as an example of successful attorney behaviour by a respondent during the JD Supra survey.
- Leverage advanced technology: Proper technology to conduct depositions includes internet, camera, lighting, and sound. Using AI-based automatic speech-to-text recognition (ASR) can speed up the deposition transcription process. Advanced tools also provide a precise timeline of events as they took place in the deposition and also allow attorneys to access and search digital transcripts and share them securely. To ensure accuracy, it’s important to have the machine-generated documents checked by an experienced legal transcription service It would be ideal if the attorney can manage the technology used to conduct the deposition. If not, they can have an associate or a paralegal to assist with technology, screen share exhibits, and annotate and introduce them in the right order.
Preparing well is important to conduct a successful and efficient deposition. Appropriate technology and avoiding distraction in the surrounding remote environment is also crucial to ensure accuracy and clarity in deposition transcription.
Depositions play an important role in the litigation process. With the COVID-19 pandemic, remote depositions became a feasible option to move things forward. Preparing for, taking, and defending depositions can be challenging for new attorneys. Mastering examination techniques and sharpening your skills to handle problems that may arise is essential to conduct effective depositions. As a legal transcription company, we put together expert tips from various sources to help new associates taking depositions.
- Prepare well: Preparing well for a deposition means researching the law to know what questions to ask, says the American Bar Association (ABA). Referencing experts, the ABA points out that as the nuances in the law may guide the entire litigation, the team should know the law to build a theory of the case and guide questions. Before the deposition, new litigators should revisit the case details, study them thoroughly, and work to discover new evidence to support the theory. Being flexible is important to incorporate any new facts that are discovered during the testimony. Learn which objections are permitted. It’s also important to review the pertinent court rules on depositions, which may include time limits for witness examination, and much more.
- Write the outline but be flexible: Keep the outline short, preferably as bulleted points indicating the questions in the proper order. The idea is to keep to the script so that you don’t miss out on anything. However, being flexible and going off the outline can actually yield valuable information. When you ask a question, pay attention to the witness’s answer and give them time to get comfortable and speak freely. Evaluate the details and nuances of the witness’ testimony. Not following up may result in missing vital testimony that could significantly help your case. According to the ABA, you can get more information by turning the deposition into a conversation and ensuring that all the main points are covered.
- Take your time and stay calm: Stay calm and don’t be bullied. Young attorneys can be pushed around with objections, warns Coulter Reporting. If you are well-prepared, you are likely to be too thorough with questioning, which can lengthen the deposition and lead to some negative responses from more experienced attorneys. Stay calm if you interrupted and indicate that you want to finish what you’re saying. Don’t let the opposing counsel sway you. “A creative compromise is to offer everyone a short break if you feel rattled or pressured”, says the ABA.
- Select and use exhibits well: Exhibits are anything other than testimony such as a physical or electronic item that can be presented at the trial or hearing. If an exhibit that is important to your case is presented by any attorney, ensure that you offer it into evidence. Have have the court reporter mark it as an exhibit before you make your offer. If the opposing counsel raises a general objection to a testimony of exhibit that is favorable to you, always say: “Please be more specific” (lawyertrialforms.com). Read our blog for expert recommendations on using exhibits in a remote deposition.
- Review the transcript: Reviewing your work can help you improve dialogue delivery. Everybody uses distinctive verbal utterances like yeah,” “right,” “um-huh,” “huh,” or “okay.” A verbatim deposition transcript would include all these utterances. Reviewing the transcripts provided by your legal transcription service provider will make you aware of usages and habits you want to avoid during your next deposition.
- Be confident: Last but not least, be confident. This is the most important advice that experts give young attorneys conducting depositions. As the ABA points out, a deposition is a discovery tool and not the actual trial. A single deposition cannot determine the outcome of as case. Be well prepared, maintain your composure and project confidence.
Over time, every attorney develops their own deposition style. Your goal should be to continue improving on your abilities and to learn new skills.
This is an update to the blog: New Technologies That Lawyers Should Use in Depositions and Trials.
Depositions are conducted in advance of a trial and are one of the most useful discovery tools for attorneys. All attorneys develop their own style to manage this challenging process. One of the main challenges of pre-trial processes is that they are document-intensive. Attorneys have to obtain and record evidence, analyze it and summarize the deposition testimonies accurately in a concise and crisp manner. Audio transcription services help with this.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, depositions have gone remote, which makes taking and defending them even more challenging. Remote depositions, can present challenges to counsel taking the deposition, including effectively using exhibits, ensuring all participants’ technology capabilities, and controlling the pace of the deposition. Defending a remote deposition can also present challenges, including effectively preparing the witness, making timely objections, and communicating confidentially with the witness during breaks when permitted.
Fortunately, today, there are several top tools, technologies and methods that attorneys can leverage to ease the deposition process.
- Electronic Transcripts: Digital transcription service providers create electronic transcripts that can be stored on digital devices such as an iPad or laptop, and accessed and shared easily among the participants in the deposition, wherever they are located. Electronic transcripts can be searched using keywords to locate the necessary information and printed out in any format.
- Litigation Management Software: If requested to do so, attorneys need to be able to quickly present documents for their team, opposing counsel, and judge. Litigation management software is designed to allow for such collaboration, enabling users to share files during the litigation process. All documents uploaded to the platform can be easily retrieved when required. With electronic exhibit software, you can store files in different formats, move individual folders and files, organize documents in the order required for a particular deposition, label documents, annotate the documents by highlighting portions, writing comments, etc.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI helps you work smarter. With AI, attorneys can obtain relevant and more significant information faster than ever, which will help them present quality evidence. They can identify, group, find and review the most relevant data and reduce redundancy by removing records that are duplicated and overlapped.
- Deposition Review Software: This cloud-based tool allows lawyers with the challenging pretrial reading, reviewing and annotating deposition transcripts. Digital transcripts are stored in the cloud and accessed from anywhere using a compatible internet-enabled device for analysis and review. You can flag important portions, search for specific words and phrases, and produce reports. TranscriptPad, TrialPad, DocReviewPad, WarRoom and Mobile Transcript are popular deposition review tools.
- Video Conferencing Platforms: With Zoom and other video conferencing software, attorneys and witnesses can proceed with depositions from any device (smart phone, tablet, laptop or PC) and from anywhere, as long as there is a good internet connection. These platforms are easy to use, and save time and money.
- Rough Drafts Transcripts: Rough drafts are yet another useful deposition tool. Attorneys may ask court reporters to send them a deposition transcript on the same day as it took place. The dirty ASCII, as this rough draft is referred to, is valuable tool that helps attorneys and their counsel in case preparation. A disclaimer is included in the rough draft transcript that tells the user that it may have errors and misspellings and that they cannot quote from it in the court.
According to Veritext Legal Solutions, the leader in deposition and litigation support solutions, the COVID-19 pandemic may have changed the legal process permanently. Their survey results show that while 87% of attorneys never or rarely participated in remote depositions pre-pandemic, 83% of attorneys plan to continue with remote depositions occasionally or more often post-pandemic even as restrictions ease (www.globenewswire.com).
In a remote deposition, all parties are in different locations and appear via telephone or videoconference. While conducting remote depositions, attorneys need to take appropriate steps to ensure an acceptable level of quality. Among other things, this would depend on whether each participant is equipped with proper technology such as computers, microphones, webcams, and internet connections. Attorneys should follow federal rules governing remote depositions, take care of all the relevant technical and legal details, seek the court’s approval of the remote deposition arrangements, and have a proper process in place for the use and sharing of exhibits. All participants should be made to test drive the conference and exhibit technology before the deposition. This can mitigate challenges.
Partnering with an experienced legal transcription service provider can ensure accurate and timely deposition transcription. Using robust technology can make conducting depositions and managing transcripts, easier and more efficient.
Video conferencing technology has been in use in legal proceedings for years. Law firms can ensure accurate documentation of video recordings of civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings with the help of a legal transcription company.
When preparing for trials, depositions and deposition transcription are one of the most important elements of the discovery process. Today, depositions have moved online, with all parties – witnesses, counsel, court reporters, and others – joining in remotely and from different locations. Lawyers are adapting their skills to conduct depositions remotely. One significant challenge when conducting virtual depositions relates to the handling of exhibits. In addition to having the right tools, lawyers need to plan in advance and follow best practices when sharing exhibits remotely. Let’s look at top recommendations from experts on using exhibits in remote depositions.
- Prepare Exhibits for Electronic Use: John E. Clabby, an experienced litigator, recommends using the “tab” method to organize exhibits for electronic use (www.americanbar.org). The steps involved are as follows:
- Determine which documents will be shown to the witness when preparing the summary or outline.
- Number the tabs in order of expected use.
- Create digital versions of the exhibits on the law firm’s shared drive, using the tab numbers.
Preparing exhibits in this manner will allow the client and the lawyer’s team members to review the summary and the potential exhibits.
- Delivering Exhibits in Advance of the Deposition: In some cases, the deposition procedure would require distributing intended exhibits one or more days in advance. The decision to provide intended exhibits in advance to the opposing counsel would also depend on the sensitivity of the documents, number of documents, testimony to be obtained and reasonableness of opposing counsel, notes a law360.com article. If there are no sensitive documents and the number of exhibits is limited, it would be better to send the documents in advance by email or provide a secure link where they can be accessed. This will help the deposition go smoothly. On the other hand, if the intention is to avoid revealing the identity or content of potential exhibits to the opposing counsel and court reporter, the files can be password protected before they are delivered. Regardless of whether the documents are password protected or not, the deponent should be able to easily access and review them during the remote deposition.
- Sharing the Exhibits on the Day of the Deposition: With exhibit sharing programs, users can upload exhibit documents to a private server during or before the deposition. Some programs allow the deponent to scroll, enlarge, write or draw on the document in real time. Paid applications allow for introduction of exhibits, managing the exhibits, and collaborating on the files, online and in the cloud. In this case, it would be necessary to ensure that the device that the opposing counsel and the deponent are using to virtually appear at the deposition is equipped to run the exhibit sharing software as well as the video conferencing software. Lawyers can also share the exhibits saved on their computer using the screen sharing capabilities of videoconferencing programs such as Zoom and Webex. These are ideal for sharing exhibits when there are multiple parties appearing in different locations. It is important to communicate with opposing counsel or the deponent in advance about how the exhibits will be introduced so that they are on the same page and prepared.
- Use a Two-Person Approach: Using two people to handle exhibits during a remote deposition can make things easier, says Clabby. While one person can take the deposition, the person who prepared the intended exhibits can manage the electronic exhibit sharing and marking. This will allow the litigator to focus on questioning the witness.
Remote video depositions have become the new normal. As lawyers adapt to questioning or defending witnesses in a virtual setting, partnering with a digital transcription service provider can ensure accurate and timely documentation of virtual depositions.
Attorneys are often busy gathering evidence that supports their client’s case and involved in legal proceedings such as depositions, hearings, witness interviews, pleadings, interrogations, private investigations, etc. While services like legal transcription provided by reliable companies can help attorneys to convert audio and video recordings containing valuable legal evidence to accurate text files, modern technology tools are available to make the attorney’s documentation job easy.
With advanced technology apps and tools, lawyers can make the litigation process more efficient and easier.