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Manual vs Automatic: What's Better for Legal Transcription?

By Zohaib Khan
Manual vs Automatic: What's Better for Legal Transcription?

Transcribing video and audio evidence into legal transcripts is an essential task in the criminal justice process. From presenting evidence in court to making appeals, legal transcripts come in handy for many reasons. In some courts, stakeholders are legally obligated to provide transcripts, and they need to be accurate and kept secure for admissibility in court. That's why law enforcement officers, prosecutors, courts and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system seek out legal transcription services for criminal justice proceedings.

It's not simple, though. Video and audio recordings can be several hours long, and transcribing them can demand a significant amount of time and skills. Manual and automatic transcription are both meant to achieve the same end result. However, both of them come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Today, we'll take a look at the pros and cons of both manual and automatic transcription and discuss how to obtain the best results for legal transcription.

Automatic Transcription vs Manual Transcription: What's the Difference?

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Manual transcription involves manual transcribing done by a person who listens to the entire audio or video recording and manually writes it down in a text format. In contrast, automatic transcription uses artificial intelligence to convert speech to text. Systems or programs that provide automatic transcription allow you to upload a video or audio file and use artificial intelligence to transcribe the media. There are pros and cons to both of these transcription methods.

Legal transcription refers to converting speech-to-text from audio or video content such as digital evidence for legal procedures. Legal transcripts have several use cases, from clarifying specific points of a piece of evidence in court and making appeals to being legally obligated for legal proceedings.  

Learn More: 4 Reasons Law Enforcement Agencies Need Legal Transcription  

Legal transcripts make it easier to analyze and present evidence. For example, lawyers can use them as legal documents to present in court. Digital platforms even enable you to search within transcripts to search for details and make the process more efficient.


Time & Resources

Time & Resources

Transcribing an audio or video file takes a certain amount of time, as well as resources such as the person or machine transcribing the media to create the transcription. The biggest pro about automatic transcription is its turnaround time. Unlike manual transcription, where you need to wait a considerable amount of time depending on how large the audio or video file is, automatic transcription provides you with a legal transcription in a maximum couple of minutes if your file is significantly large. Manual transcription, however, can take hours, days or even weeks for larger files. Moreover, utilizing your own officers means fewer resources available for field operations and other tasks, while entirely using 3rd party legal transcription services can be costly in the long term.



Legal transcripts need to be accurate in order to be credible and admissible for legal and criminal justice purposes in court. If they are not accurate, you might be at risk of being under legal action. Manual transcription wins out on this one. Human transcriptionists have years of experience and practice that are difficult to match by a program or machine. As such, a human transcriptionist may be preferred in certain scenarios.


Terminology & Jargon  

Depending on the domain of the proceedings, there may be specific words and terminology that might not be comprehensible by people outside of the field, and it's difficult to find automatic transcription services optimized to correctly identify and transcribe the jargon. In scenarios where the terms and complexity of the language used need to be understandable and relatable, an artificial program would find it difficult to pick up on the terminology.


Privacy & Security

Privacy & Security for Legal Transcripts

Privacy is of the utmost importance when it comes to legal scenarios and situations. Legal entities and organizations may be wary of sharing files and documents outside of the organization. While all legal transcription service providers need to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), organizations such as law enforcement and others may prefer to transcribe media without the involvement of any 3rd parties.


Which one should I choose?  

Choosing automatic or manual transcription depends on your priorities. If you want to maintain complete accuracy and avoid missing legal jargon elements, manual services for legal transcription can ensure so. However, if your evidence or legal documents demand a high level of privacy and you need those transcriptions faster, automatic transcription helps you do the job in a fraction of the same time. But considering the importance of each of these elements, automatic or manual transcription alone might not be good enough...

Legal Transcription


But what if you could have the best of both worlds?  


Combine Automatic and Manual Transcription for the Best Solution  

Many criminal justice and law enforcement agencies are using automatic and manual legal transcription services to increase their efficiency and results. Automatic transcription helps quickly transcribe large amounts of files, while manual transcription can ensure the appropriate transcription of terminology and overall accuracy of the transcript. 

Recognized in IDC MarketScape*, VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS) streamlines the process of securing, managing, searching, analyzing, and sharing ever-increasing digital evidence.

VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS) provides an end-to-end solution for managing digital evidence and legal documents. To make it easier for criminal justice and law enforcement agencies to create legal transcriptions, VIDIZMO DEMS provides both automatic and manual transcription for all audio and video files. You can automatically transcribe your media within moments when uploading files and leverage Rev manual legal transcription services directly through VIDIZMO for 100% accuracy, such as legal jargon missed by the program.  

Visit our website or contact us to learn more about VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System.  Learn MoreContact Us

Tags: Digital Evidence Management, Automatic Transcription, Video Platform Compliance

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