Stenographic Court Reporting Vs Audio Recording

Audio typing is fast becoming popular in legal circles in a variety of applications due to its benefits and effectiveness. If you walk into any law firm these days, you will find lawyers dictating notes to legal assistants. The presence of court reporters is also common in any given court hearing. Alternatively, legal proceedings outside the court normally take place with the presence of an audio typist who provides word-by-word transcripts for depositions, arbitrations, testimonies, citations and other legal proceedings. Below is a look at how stenographic court reporting measures up against audio recording. These are two of the most commonly used methods of turning spoken legal proceedings into text.

Stenographic Method

A stenograph or stenotype is a specially designed machine, which is used for taking shorthand notes during legal proceedings. It is mostly used by court reporters to quickly and accurately record testimonies and other proceedings during a trail. However, students can use the machine to take notes during lectures. Early stenotype machines date as far back as the mid 1830s but they have undergone major improvements so as to conform to today’s demands. Currently, a high quality stenograph machine is capable of networking with a computer and a microphone array. Stenographs have the following benefits:

  • Expedited draft transcripts: There are some instances when a lawyer needs a rough draft of the transcript as soon as possible. Stenographic reporters can use a computer to translate steno notes to English instantly, thereby providing a rough draft of the transcript within hours of legal proceedings.
  • Reading testimony during transcription: The stenographic method enables a court reporter to read out a portion of the record during case proceedings whenever needed.

Audio Recording Method

Digital voice recorders have replaced the compact audio cassette as the forerunner tools for audio recording whenever the need for transcription arises. These hand held devices are designed to record sound with superior recording and playback quality without the need for storage media. The sound files on digital recorders are managed in a file system on an internal hard drive or an external flash drive. The files can be easily uploaded onto computers for audio editing and transcription.  Digital recorders offer the following benefits for legal transcriptions:

  • Durability: Digital files can be stored for decades without the audio becoming distorted. These audio files act as important back-ups and can be retrieved and transcribed again when the text files incur damaged or get lost. Unlike in the case of stenographs where a recoding is unique to the person who prepared it, any skilled audio typist can transcribe audio files.
  • Ease of exchange: Digital files can be easily exchanged between a client and an audio typist thereby saving time and eliminating postage costs whilst simultaneously reducing the possibility of precious files being damaged or lost in the mail. Both the audio and completed text files can be via email or secure uploading services over the internet.

Stenographic court recording and audio recording have their own pros and cons. Both methods can deliver timely transcriptions. However, the ideal method to use mainly depends on the specific needs of the client that needs transcription services.

Craig Frazer is a lawyer and part-time writer who offers litigation advice and law related advice though his articles. During his spare time, Craig does part time work for this this website.